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WEEE research – IT
4th August 2004


British businesses unprepared for costs and consequences of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive

With the final consultation paper from the DTI out this week, a new survey shows that
Britain’s IT buyers are predicting that they will have to help pay for new EU legislation on recycling IT equipment – despite Government plans for manufacturers to pick up the tab.

A survey by business technology manufacturer Brother UK has revealed that over a third (37%) still haven’t even heard of the Directive, and 50% have no idea what the implications might be for their company.

A worrying 31% of public sector buyers were completely clueless about the legislation, which aims to regulate how businesses reuse, reclaim, recycle and dispose of WEEE.

Brother’s “Green Business” research with 250 of Britain’s biggest users of IT also shows that while 92% of IT buyers agree that more should be done to reduce the massive IT landfill mountain, most businesses expect the WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Directive to add to their IT bill by up to 10%.

Amongst those who claim to understand WEEE, 9% admitted they still “hadn’t a clue” about the potential cost of the new legislation to their business. The majority (54%) think that dealing with the directive will cost them up to 5% of their total IT budget – but 1 in 10 companies think that it may cost them up to 10% and 2% think more than 10%. Only 4% think that they will get away with paying nothing.

Said Mike Dinsdale, Marketing Director of Brother UK: “We applaud the WEEE Directive’s aims – it’s about time the IT industry took responsibility for the mountains of waste we create. But while the legislation will make manufacturers responsible for the costs of recycling their own electrical and electronic waste, there are also implications for IT buyers. Many companies have stockpiles of old IT equipment and they will be responsible for disposing of the waste which vendors won’t take back – potentially with heavy costs for companies failing to plan ahead.

“With the Directive coming into effect this month but the final consultation paper not expected until September, it’s worrying to see Britain’s businesses aren’t fully aware of the implications of WEEE – and the potential cost it could mean to their businesses. IT managers should be putting strategies in place now.”

Some IT buyers are prepared to put their money where their ethics are. While 15% don’t see why they should foot the bill at all, seven out of 10 buyers felt they would be prepared to pay up to an extra 5% on items such as printers and faxes to be more easily recycled while 10% of buyers said they would be prepared to pay 10% more and a tiny minority (1%) would agree to a 20% levy.

Brother’s findings also show that IT buyers are tuning into the value of environmentally-friendly functions. While print quality and networkability remain the most important functions when purchasing IT hardware, energy saving devices are rated highly.

More than nine out of 10 (96%) buyers cited consumable saving functions – such as ‘toner save mode’ which reduces toner usage, thus cutting costs – as highly important to their buying decisions, 88% valued energy-saving devices (such as ‘stand-by’ features) and 84% viewed low emissions levels as vital.

Added Brother’s Mike Dinsdale: “The WEEE Directive threatens to be the tip of the legislative iceberg set to impact on IT product manufacture and procurement. There is already a raft of draft legislation to enforce environmentally-friendly product design and usage in Europe. IT buyers and British businesses need to be aware of the consequences for the future.

“Like most green initiatives though, there is an investment cost to pay. You could look at it as a kind of business WAT (Waste Added Tax), so it’s important that we all work together to minimise the green bill for us all.”

Brother recently launched the industry’s first TCO ’99 accredited office products, the world’s toughest environmental standard testing environmental, energy, emissions and ergonomic issues.

The range of all-in-one centres and office printers has been designed to be recycled. Materials such as plastics and metals are kept separate and different types of raw material are kept to a minimum to aid recycling.

The company recently achieved zero landfill waste from its factories in Japan.


Contact Brother on 0870 606 0626 (stockist information and brochure requests) or visit the Brother website at

For press enquiries, please contact Sasha Stewart, Jon Clements or Debbie Wells at Staniforth on tel 0161 274 0100 or email

Note to Editors:

·Brother’s ‘Green Business’ Survey, July 2004 (Sample: 250 male and female IT
purchasers; business size: 500-900 employees, 1,000 - 4,999 employees and 5000+
employees; public and private sector).

·The Brother UK Green Business Report containing the complete research findings is
available on request by contacting Staniforth

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Staniforth Communications (Manchester) in the following categories: Consumer Technology, Business & Finance, Computing & Telecoms, for more information visit