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SMEs still in dark over WEEE

Red tape should be mainly suppliers' problem, though

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SMEs remain wildly ignorant of new electronic equipment disposal regs, according to a leading UK IT reseller.

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) legislation passed another significant milestone this week. The deadline for kit producers to join a disposal compliance scheme was 15 March.

A survey conducted by WStore, the online biz-IT reseller, found that "a staggering 47 per cent of respondents...had never heard of the WEEE legislation."

But all is not gloom and doom. When pre-WEEE electronic kit is replaced – which much of it surely will be – it is the vendor of the new gear who must handle the disposal of the old machinery, not the purchaser. And new gear bought in the era of WEEE must be sold with free take-back arrangements for end-users provided as part of the package.

Of course, vendors will have to cover the associated costs somehow. Stewart Hayward, WStore commercial director, said: "What these changes mean for anyone buying or selling IT equipment is that the costs of recovering and disposing of packaging materials and the equipment itself will be met by increased prices."

Trouble for SMEs could crop up if they need to get rid of EEE purchased before the directive without replacing it. In this case the biz will be required to handle disposal compliance itself. The associated costs, record-keeping, and bureaucracy could prove troublesome for small firms.

"Assuming that you don't have to do anything, or the problem will be someone else's responsibility, simply isn't good enough," says Hayward.

But the WStore company website offers some comfort for his customers. "If you are replacing old business PCs with new equipment, we as resellers are required by the new law to take responsibility for the costs of collection, treatment and recovery of any equipment being replaced on a like-for-like basis," it says.

Most of the organisational burden of WEEE will fall on producers, distributors, and resellers. The costs, as ever, seem set to trickle down to the end user. ®

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