Compliance with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2006 (“WEEE”) will cost UK industry over £100 million annually. WEEE applies to most equipment which uses mains power or batteries.

Obligations as a business user

Regardless of the date of purchase, either the retailer or the supplier will be liable to pay for recycling equipment used in business (eg, point of sale hardware). Consequently liability for recycling costs will be an important contract negotiation point for retailers buying equipment not intended for resale.

For pre-13 August 2005 equipment, even if the contract is silent on liability for recycling, the retailer will in some situations be liable by default. Obligations as a distributor of electrical or electronic equipment From1 July 2007, all retailers (even online retailers) selling to private householdswill need to: 

  • provide recycling information to their customers 
  • operate a take-back systemfor customers who are buying replacement equipment that performs the same function (eg, buying a new DVD player to replace a video cassette recorder). The old equipment need not have been purchased fromthat retailer. Take-back can be in-store or via the national scheme for distributors, please see  formore details 
  • keep detailed compliance records for four years

Obligations as a producer of electrical or electronic equipment

From2 January 2007, if a retailer imports or exports equipment into the EU on a professional basis or is selling any equipment under its own brand name, itmay also be classed as a “producer” and have obligations in relation to financing the recycling, labelling of equipment, registration, reporting and also provision of information to recyclers.