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BIS Makes Decision on Printer Cartridges

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills has announced a change to the UK’s position on printer cartridges under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations.

Until now, printer cartridges have been considered out of scope of the WEEE regulations. However, following an informal consultation with the industry, and in light of the European Commission’s final frequently asked questions (FAQ) document on the Recast WEEE Directive, the decision has been made to bring printer cartridges into scope of the UK WEEE Regulations.

According to the previous definition, although a discarded printer was regarded as WEEE, the ink cartridge itself did not fall under the definition of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) and so was not classed as WEEE when discarded on its own.

Last April, the European Commission published an FAQ document covering its interpretation of the revised WEEE Directive which the UK passed into law in late 2013 through the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2013. This FAQ document set out that a printer cartridge falls within scope of the Directive if it meets the definition of EEE given in Article 3(1)(a) and does not fall under the exclusions of the Directive. As a result, the UK has concluded that printer cartridges should be brought into scope of the UK WEEE Regulations.

BIS has stated that it will take into account the need for industry to have appropriate time to prepare for this change and has said that printer cartridges will be brought into scope of the UK WEEE Regulations for the 2016 compliance period. This means that:

• Producers who will be placing printer cartridges on the UK market during the 2016 compliance period will need to register as an Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) producer.
• In 2016, producers will need to report the tonnages of printer cartridges placed on the UK market on a quarterly basis.
• Data collected in 2016 will feed into determining targets for 2017. The financial obligations for the collection, treatment and recovery of printer cartridges will arise for producers during the 2017 compliance period.

Vikkie Fitzgerald, Clarity Environmental Project Manager, said: “There has been some lobbying for printer cartridges to be included in some form of legislation to encourage their reuse and recycling, so many will be pleased to hear of this change.

“It is good to see that BIS is giving affected producers the time to prepare in advance and as always, we will work with our current members to ensure they are aware and understand these changes in time. We also look forward to being able to provide advice and guidance to any new members who will need to join a WEEE compliance scheme for the first time.”

The Environment Agency’s technical guidance document, which provides more information on how to determine whether a product falls within the scope of the regulations will be updated to reflect this change. You can download a copy of the document from the WEEE compliance section of our website.

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Clarity’s low-cost WEEE compliance scheme is one of the fastest-growing in the UK, offering a full range of services to producers and business end-users. If you are a small producer and would like to know more about the support Clarity can offer, please contact our technical specialists on 0845 129 7177.

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