Electronic-equipment designers face an ill-defined future when the European Union goes "green" this summer.
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First WEEE offender fined
Boots Retail in Ireland was the first company to be prosecuted for offenses under Waste Electric Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations. The company pleaded guilty to charges brought by the Environ-mental Protection Agency. The company admitted it failed to keep a specified notice alerting customers that prices included a contribution to a producer-recycling fund. It also failed to include the information in an October 2005 newspaper advertisement, as required by the Regulations. The Court imposed a 1,200-Euro fine on the company, while awarding 6,865 Euros to the EPA.
It is important to note that the above fine for WEEE noncompliance was for provisions in Irish national WEEE legislation that were outside the requirements of the EU WEEE directive, says Bruce Calder, president of Ageus Solutions, in Canada. His company specializes in helping OEMs with environmental compliance. "This incident stresses the importance of under-standing the requirements of each EU member state, not just of the EU directives."
For example, each EU member state can interpret how environ-mental management costs, known as "Visible Fees", will be notified to the buyer, says Calder. They can be generally broken down into four different interpretations:
- The producer is given the choice to show environmental management cost to the buyer.
- The producer must show the environmental management cost to the buyer.
- The producer is disallowed from showing the environmental management cost to the buyer.
- The producer must show the environmental management cost to the buyer depending on whether the products are intended for use in private households.