The ticking timebomb of compulsory IT kit recycling continues to cause confusion in the channel, despite the first deadline being just five months away.
This is the claim by RDC, the recycling arm of corporate VAR Computacenter and Fujitsu Siemens Computers, which recently held a roundtable to discuss the implications of the impending Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive, due to come into force on 13 August, and the less familiar Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS), which becomes law in July 2006.
"The channel is less certain about how to deal with WEEE than vendors because no one really knows where responsibility lies, apart from the general rule that the polluter pays," said Gerry Hacket, managing director of RDC.
Under the RoHS directive, which, like WEEE, applies to any company that manufactures in the European Union (EU), or exports to it, all electronic equipment must be free of certain banned substances, such as lead, mercury and cadmium. However, the ban will not be absolute and trace levels will still be permitted.
According to a recent study by US compliance testing firm TUV Rheinland, most firms are ignorant of how their responsibilities will increase when the directives come into force.
The study also pointed out that this lack of understanding presents "a serious situation" for vendors, with those refusing to comply facing the prospect of having their product banned from sale in EU member countries.
Gary Owen, head of marketing at Fujitsu Siemens, said: "From a vendor's point of view, we know what we and resellers are doing. But there is this whole grey area where no one knows where responsibility lies, or even if distributors will be included in the directives.
"WEEE is putting responsibility back onto the vendor. They will pay one way or another. Recycling costs are covered by regeneration of the product and the cost to the channel will probably be offset by the vendor."
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