New wave of waste rules

If you're under the impression that the phrase 'hazardous waste' only refers to toxic chemicals and industrial pollutants then you're in for a shock.

New regulations on disposal of hazardous waste come into force in July this year and will affect thousands of large and small UK businesses that regularly dispose of everyday electrical products.

The new EU directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) will reclassify old computers, fluorescent lighting tubes and countless other electrical items as hazardous waste. Companies throwing away more than 200kg of such waste each year will now be forced to pay to register with the Environment Agency and use professional disposal services.

The WEEE directive is designed to make equipment manufacturers meet the cost of dealing with hazardous products and any goods sold after 13 August will be affected by the new rules. But IT support firms warn that some clauses in the directive could allow producers to make alternative financing arrangements, possibly shifting disposal costs onto business customers.

“Companies across the UK are in the dark,” says Paul Davis from IT solutions company Nexpress. “I’m surprised so little is being done by the Government to communicate this issue to businesses.”

Companies who fail to register in time may be liable for harsh penalties including heavy fines. Registration with the Environment Agency costs £18 per premises if submitted online, £23 by phone or £28 by post. For more information visit the Environment Agency to register.