HC Deb 11 September 2003 vol 410 cc478-9W
Mr. Nigel Dodds

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on his policy for the disposal of refrigerators and freezers in Northern Ireland. [125841]

Angela Smith

European Commission Regulation 2037/2000 on Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS), which came into effect on 1 October 2000, requires the removal of controlled ODS from refrigeration equipment before these appliances are scrapped. Recovery, recycling, reclamation and destruction of such substances may be undertaken using only approved technologies. The necessary technology is not yet available anywhere in Ireland; a few facilities are now available in Great Britain.

Currently, responsibility for collection, storage and disposal of waste fridges lies with district councils. The Department of the Environment, through the waste management grant scheme, is fully funding district councils in taking forward this responsibility. The Department has also taken a proactive role in assisting councils to seek to achieve a cost-effective, environmentally-sound approach to the disposal of fridges. To this end a collective contract for the disposal of fridges on an all-island basis is currently under negotiation aided by the Central Procurement Directorate (Department of Finance and Personnel).

In August 2005 ultimate responsibility for collection and disposal of fridges will transfer from district councils to producers under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE)2002/96/EC. The Department will, after that date, continue to have a role in ensuring the availability and accessibility of the necessary collection facilities in accordance with the requirements of the WEEE Directive. The detailed out-workings of the directive continue, however, to be the subject of discussion between officials in my Department, the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department of Trade and Industry. Public consultations with stakeholders are also on-going.