But the statistics provided by law firm Eversheds concern me further. The idea that 70% of small businesses claim not to have heard of the directive is very disturbing, and the fact that 42% of retailers and manufacturers still don't understand their role demonstrates a distinct apathy amongst businesses to address the issue.
This indifference may be in part down to the numerous delays in the directive's inception. However, there is simply no excuse for businesses being ill-prepared for the legislation.
There have long been solutions and consultancy available from companies and industry bodies to help support businesses in their understanding and preparation for the directive.
Wincanton's investment of £4.5m last year in the country's first WEEE recycling plant and its ongoing work over the past 18 months with retailers, manufacturers and businesses on take-back and recycling solutions are examples of how businesses are already working together to understand the implications and costs of the WEEE Directive. There are also compliance scheme solutions available for small businesses, helping them as groups rather than them having to bear the cost and burden alone.
Most companies will already have the capability to integrate much of their WEEE solutions into their existing supply chain. They may just need to look at how.
We expect the Government and environment agencies to work with compliance schemes and service providers to undertake an awareness campaign between now and WEEE implementation, ensuring that retailers, manufacturers and end-users of electrical equipment fully understand their obligations under this legislation.
Ultimately, the directive will come into force in July, and those companies not prepared should expect to pay the price.