London, UK Implementing the impending legislation on waste electrical and electronics equipment and hazardous substances could cost the UK economy up to £675million a year and managing directors and CEOs of UK electrical and electronic companies are being urged to take immediate action to protect their companies.
The European Union driven legislation will be introduced in the UK from late 2004 and the changes will affect equipment made in or imported to the EU .
The DTI and DEFRA (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs) have issued guidance documents for senior executives and for marketing, design and product development staff to help plan for the changes.
The guides have been complied in consultation with the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and the Institute of Electrical Engineers and endorsed by Intellect, the UK IT, Telecommunications and Electronics industries trade association. Envirowise, the environmental support and advisory service will use them as part of a campaign.
The publication for MDs/CEOs explains the impact of the upcoming directives on WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) and ROHS (Restriction Of use of certain Hazardous Substances). It outlines the types of companies affected, the financial obligations that the legislation will impose and the cost savings that companies could achieve by immediate action.
The guide highlights the responsibilities that firms will have for financing the collection arrangements for all their products at end-of-life both new products and those already in the market. Firms have a responsibility to not only comply with the legislation but also to ensure that their suppliers do so too and it covers all components in products they make, supply or sell.
The second guide emphasises the need for a review of marketing and product life cycle thinking, to develop cleaner and more sustainable product designs and plan end-of-life management.
It explains a company's responsibilities for auditing their own and suppliers' products, components and sub-assemblies. As well as the well-publicised use of lead-free materials there are also restrictions on mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls (PBB), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE).
The guide also helps companies to understand their obligations in financing the collection of WEEE, meeting recycling and recovery targets, financing historic waste and providing product marking and disassembly information. The areas where cost savings and other opportunities exist in refurbishment and in component and materials recovery are also detailed.
The end-of-life recovery targets set by the WEEE directive for various product categories are detailed and a calculator is included which will help companies assess their compliance with these target levels.
More information and requests for guides can be found on the Envirowise web site.