EPA Prosecutes Argos Distributors (Ireland) Ltd under the WEEE Regulations

Date released: May 09 2006

On 8 May 2006 Argos Distributors (Ireland) Ltd pleaded guilty to charges brought by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in relation to two offences under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations 2005.

At Wexford District Court Judge O’ Buachalla heard the case and the company admitted breaching the Regulations by:

  • Failing to state the correct Producer Recycling Fund contribution (amount of environmental management cost) in a brochure, as required by the Regulations and
  • Failing to maintain the statutory notice in-store alerting customers to the fact that prices include a contribution to a Producer Recycling Fund to ensure that WEEE is collected and recycled in a responsible manner.
    A fine of €1,500 was imposed in relation to one charge and costs of €10,000 were awarded to the EPA.

Commenting on the prosecution Dr Gerry Byrne, Programme Manager, EPA said “The WEEE Regulations are relatively complex and businesses need to deploy appropriate resources to implement them correctly in advertising, marketing and legal compliance. There will be ongoing challenges for sellers of electrical and electronic equipment to maintain compliance following initial implementation.”

Further information: Niamh Leahy, EPA Press Office 053 70770 (24-hours)

Notes for Editors: 

WEEE

Waste electrical and electronic equipment is made up of many different materials and components, some of which are hazardous. The Directive aims to prevent the generation of electrical and electronic waste and to promote reuse, recycling and other forms of recovery. Failure to comply with the requirements of the Regulations has the potential to reduce the amount of waste electrical and electronic equipment that can be collected and diverted from landfill.

WEEE Enforcement

The EPA’s Waste Prevention Unit enforces the WEEE Regulations.  Since August 2005, extensive correspondence has been initiated alerting numerous Retailers and Producers of EEE to their obligations.  Most companies have rapidly commenced preparations to comply with the Regulations.  While the EPA is hopeful that those contacted will work towards compliance without recourse to legal action, three successful prosecutions have now been taken under the WEEE Regulations, and instructions have been given for legal action to be instigated in further cases.

The EPA and the Office of the Director Consumer Affairs (ODCA) are working closely in regard to the correct pricing of EEE at retail premises throughout the country.  Inspectors from ODCA are actively looking at this issue at a range of EEE retail outlets.

The EPA is also consulting directly with the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) concerning the enforcement of legally correct advertising of EEE.  Non-compliant advertising for EEE is being referred to them for follow through with their media member organisations. 

Local authorities have a role in enforcing many of the articles in the Regulations for example ensuring one for one take-back is available, registration of all retailers and providing civic amenity sites for WEEE.  A national briefing session completed in November 2005 for all local authorities advised them of their role in the enforcement of the Regulations through the EPA’s national Environmental Enforcement Network.  A WEEE Working Group is being set up to guide and co-ordinate the Local Authorities in their enforcement work.

Electronically collated information on WEEE with direct links to additional information sources, the National WEEE Register and the compliance schemes etc has been set up at: www.epa.ie/whatwedo/waste

The EPA has undertaken an extensive national advertising campaign in the national press to highlight the WEEE Regulations. Additionally, the EPA recorded an item on WEEE for the Eco-Eye TV programme, which was broadcast in March 2006.  EPA will be participating in a number of national seminars concerning the requirements of the Regulations during 2006.

The EPA is an active participant in the Producer Responsibility Liaison Group and meetings of the National WEEE Registration Body.  Links are being made with regulators in other countries to share experiences in the enforcement of WEEE.