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Remove WEEE Regulations for Small Businesses

Comment 30th July 2010

Remove the requirement to join a producer scheme for small and medium sized enterprises.

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2006 (WEEE Regulations) embody in UK law the requirements of the EU Directive 2002/96/EU. Typically, the regulations in other EU countries have been applied differently and allow exemptions for small businesses, but in the UK this is not so.

The WEEE Regulations place a requirement on companies to join a producer scheme, typically this costs £1000 per year, with additional costs depending on the amount of WEEE by weight placed on sale in the UK

The basic idea of these regulations is make manufacturers pay for the disposal costs of electrical equipment at the end of it's life, and there is some logic in this for mass produced items such as televisions. However for small companies the costs are disproportionate and the red tape is a nightmare.

There are many ridiculous aspects to this legislation.

– Producers that exclusively export (whether to the EU or rest of the world) are not covered

– Producers that make equipment in other countries for sale here are not covered

– The emphasis on the weight of the product is unfair on, for example, lathe manufacturers whose products contain lots of cast iron and concrete to make them heavy, and only a small proportion of electronics.

This is an excellent example of the UK "Gold Plating" an EU Directive

Why does this matter?

The WEEE Regulations are effectively a tax on manufacturing, since almost all engineered products now contain some electrical or electronic aspect.

The application of the regulations to small companies is damaging because it acts as a barrier to start ups in technology and most manufacturing. Even making and selling one prototype device renders a company liable to the regulations.

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