EPA Prosecutes Spectra Photo Limited under the WEEE Regulations

Date released: May 03 2006

On 2 May 2006 Spectra Photo Limited were prosecuted by the Environmental Protection Agency in relation to two offences under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations 2005. 

The case was heard at Dublin Metropolitan District Court and the company were accused of breaching the Regulations by:

  • Failing to maintain a specified 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.
  • Failing to state the Producer Recycling Fund contribution (amount of environmental management cost) on the Spectra website, catalogue and brochure, as required by the Regulations.

The court found in favour of the EPA and imposed a fine of €2,000 on the first charge, awarded costs of €8,140 to the EPA and took the second charge into consideration.

This is the second case to be taken under these Regulations in Ireland or in the EU. In January 2006 the EPA prosecuted Boots Retail (Ireland) Ltd. for breaches of the WEEE Regulations. The Regulations were made to bring the EU WEEE Directive into Irish law and became effective on 13th August 2005.

Commenting on the prosecution Dr Gerry Byrne, Programme Manager, EPA said, “The EPA has contacted or inspected over 600 companies to date. At this point we need full and frank information from them in order to ensure the fair application of the WEEE Regulations. Further prosecutions are listed for court hearing and others are under active consideration.”

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.  Nationwide inspections of retail premises to check compliance with the Regulations are ongoing.  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, a further prosecution is listed for hearing in May 2006 and prosecutions against other companies are under active consideration.

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 Enforcement Network is being set up to guide and co-ordinate local authorities in their enforcement work.

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

A guidance note has been issued on this website for consultation on Business to Business (B2B) waste management plans which self-compliers must file with the EPA.

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.