"We have now entered the second compliance period for the UK WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic equipment) Regulations and still some confusion remains amongst caterers and hoteliers," says Roger Miller, commercial manager of Veolia Environmental Services' WEEE Producer Compliance Scheme.
The larger "producers" of equipment are well informed and fully compliant, with an awareness that they are very visible to regulatory authorities.
Small to medium businesses have not received the same level of attention or exposure to the regulations and as such remain unsure of what, if anything they must do.
One thing that every business needs to do as a matter of urgency is to seek advice on their position, as ignorance is no defence against potential prosecution.
It is widely believed that around 50% of all obligated "producers" haven't registered, albeit these are smaller "producers" and do not represent half the marketplace in product terms. There has been a lack of awareness in many sectors which has resulted in many businesses simply doing nothing, for fear of making mistakes or because they did not want to look at the issue. Other obligated "producers" may mistakenly think that the directive did not apply to their businesses.
What it means
The WEEE Directive aims to minimise the impact of electrical and electronic goods on the environment by increasing re-use and recycling and reducing the amount going to landfill - which currently represents around 2% of sites' volume.
The aim is also to introduce "producer responsibility" to ensure all WEEE is managed and controlled in a compliant manner to meet EU and UK regulations. Increases in landfill tax of 700% since 1996 mean it is no longer cheaper to landfill WEEE rather than recycle it.
WEEE items relevant to the hotel and catering sector include: trouser presses, kettles and hairdryers in the bedroom, washing machines, toasters, microwaves and ovens in the kitchen and pcs and laptops on receptions and in offices.
In terms of what to do next these are the priorities:
• Check that everyone in your business is aware of the new regulations
• Check that there is an appropriate place to store WEEE for collection
• Check that all of your suppliers are registered appropriately for WEEE
• Investigate disposal options for the removal of WEEE
• See whether there are reuse organisations that may have use for redundant or replaced products
• Ensure that you only use registered companies for disposing of WEEE to ensure compliance to new regulations
For more information contact the Environment Agency at www.environment-agency.gov.uk
By Roger Miller, commercial manager of Veolia Environmental Services' WEEE Producer Compliance Scheme, www.veoliaenvironmentalservices.co.uk/