Following extensive consultation, Science minister Malcolm Wicks today lays regulations before Parliament as part of the Government commitment to introduce practical regulations to implement the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive in the UK.

Producers of electrical goods will from July 2007 be required to meet the environmental costs of dealing with waste products under new rules published today.

Wicks said: "Electrical waste such as toasters, fridges and washing machines are a growing environmental problem here in the UK with over two million tonnes being dumped in landfill last year alone. There is currently no incentive for those that produce them to care about the life cycle of their products. These regulations will mean they can no longer shirk this responsibility."

All companies who import, manufacture and rebrand electrical and electronic equipment will have to finance its treatment, recovery and environmentally safe disposal. The directive recognises that this is the responsibility of those who produce the goods.

"When I announced the clear implementation timetable in the summer it was to give business as much time as possible to prepare,” Wicks stated. “Some responsible producers are already factoring the cost of recycling their product into the design process and recognise that caring about what happens to the goods they sell needn't cost the earth."

By 15 March 2007 producers will need to join an approved producer compliance scheme to ensure that they are able to comply with the Directive from 1 July 2007.

The regulations will enable consumers to dispose of their electrical waste free of charge at accessible and appropriate places. Consumers will start to see changes from July 2007, with new signage at their local council refuse centres, in shops, and on new electrical products.

It will also give distributors the choice of how to meet their obligations under the directive by either joining the Distributor Take-back Scheme (DTS) or by offering customers in-store take-back. Any operator of a designated collection facility (DCF) will be able to arrange with a producer compliance scheme (PCS) to have the electrical waste deposited at their site taken away for treatment and recycling by that PCS, free of charge.

Also announced today, is the appointment of Valpak Retail WEEE Services as the operator of the Distributor Take-back Scheme (DTS) funded by £10m from retailers. The scheme will establish a network of designated collection facilities where consumers can get rid of their electrical waste. The money will primarily be paid to local authorities to assist in the improvement of civic amenity sites so that electrical waste can be separately collected there. Retailers have an obligation to offer take-back services to householders. For more information on:

Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment Regulations visit the DTI website.