The EU Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive, which comes into force in September 2004, requires manufacturers to collect and recycle goods.
But if supermarkets buy out guarantees for these products, often sourced from the far east, responsibility will shift to them said Royal Mail, which has developed a reverse logistics system with Safeway and US firm Return Logistics.
Practical details about how the directive will be enforced are still being hammered out, said general manager, warehousing and distribution, Richard Rogers. "One possible scenario is that retailers would have to offer a free takeback service. It's fair to say a lot of retailers are not particularly well equipped to handle this material."