HC Deb 27 October 2003 vol 412 cc11-2WS
Mr. Edwards

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what discussions she has had with EU Trade and Industry Ministers about including printer inkjet cartridges in the implementation of the EU Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment; [134212]

(2) what recent representations she has received about the implementation of the EU Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment from (a) representatives of the recycling of printer inkjet cartridges industry and (b) environmental bodies; and if she will make a statement; [134213]

(3) what measures she is taking to encourage the recycling of printer inkjet cartridges; [134214]

(4) what assessment she has made of the contribution of the recycling of printer inkjet cartridges industry to achieving the Government's targets on (a) recycling and (b) sustainable development. [134215]

Mr. Timms

The Department has made no specific assessment of the contribution of refilling inkjet cartridges towards environmental objectives. However, the potential environmental benefits of printer cartridge refilling, as well as the contribution of the independent refill sector towards customer choice, are recognised and welcomed by Government.

The Department has recently received a large number of letters from independent printer cartridge refillers, including many from franchisees of Cartridge World. The independent cartridge refillers have raised concerns that recent innovations by equipment manufacturers in printer cartridge technology may hinder or prevent refilling by independent operators. They have pressed for the Government specifically to include printer cartridges as electrical and electronic products in the implementation of the EU Directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment (the WEEE Directive) and to implement the Directive's "eco-design" provisions to restrict these developments in cartridge technology.

This DTI has not received representations from environmental organisations on these matters.

The Government are currently planning UK implementation of the WEEE Directive, with the aim of publishing implementation proposals later this autumn for consultation. The Directive applies to whole electrical and electronic products, not to individual components, sub-assemblies or consumables. Printer cartridges fall into this latter category.

The Department sees a harmonised approach to the scope of the Directive as desirable. Officials from this Department with responsibility for implementation planning for the WEEE Directive regularly meet their opposite numbers from other EU member states and the European Commission and have discussed the status of printer cartridges under the Directive. A majority of member states and the Commission have said they share the UK's interpretation. DTI Ministers have not discussed this issue directly with EU counterparts.

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