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Cost of WEEE compliance plunges for indie channel

by Scott Bicheno on 10 October 2008, 11:37


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The law requiring resellers to take responsibility for electronic waste, known as WEEE, has been in place for well over a year now and there are signs that the government is starting to crack down on non-compliance.

The problem for many smaller retailers, resellers and service providers has been the prohibitive cost of compliance. Typical fees for registering with a compliance scheme if you're a ‘producer' of WEEE start at around £500, on top of which you have to pay the environment agency £220, for some reason, and you're still on your own when it comes to transporting it.

Many independents simply can't afford to be take on another grand's worth of liabilities, especially in these testing times, and so have simply swept the issue under the carpet. As one indie retailer told us today in an unfortunate turn of phrase made almost unavoidable by the acronym: "We're sitting on a pile of WEEE."

It looks like there's now finally a compliance scheme designed with the needs of the indie in mind and it's being introduced by ITACS, the trade body created to represent indies, in partnership with the WeeeCare compliance scheme.

Details of the scheme and how to join are available on the ITACS website.  Essentially it boils down to a payment of £150 per annum for ‘producer' compliance plus £25 for ITACS membership if you're not already a member. And the environment agency's pound of flesh, of course.

Furthermore, WeeeCare will collect quantities of WEEE of over 300kg for free and will even pay you £160 per ton. So if you accumulate a couple of tons of the stuff you more or less break even on WEEE and could even start to make a profit! There are also rumours that BERR might be looking to lower the fee for indies too. Retailers, as opposed to producers, don't pay any membership fee and still get the free collection and payback opportunities.

Matthew Woolley, Chairman of Itacs said: "By launching this deal , Itacs is giving opportunity to significantly reduce compliance costs, return the independent sector to build activities they had abandoned and indeed to encourage those non-compliant to come out from under the radar.  It encourages independents to actively support in-store take back as a service knowing there is income rather than cost"

It would be fair to say that ITACS hasn't exactly been hyper-active in the past year or so. But the reason for its formation - inadequate representation for indies by incumbent trade associations - still remains. So it's good to see ITACS get its act together and we sincerely hope this will be a positive development for the indie channel.