The EU Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive, which finally came into force in the UK on January 2nd, requires office equipment manufacturers to reduce the amount of electronic waste going to landfill by recycling the goods they sell.
Under the WEEE rules, users of office machines will be able to take their equipment back to the manufacturer or retailer they bought it from who will be responsible for having it recycled.
Although the legislation was officially introduced this week, manufacturers have until the beginning of July to make sure they are fully compliant. Between now and then they will have to establish compliance partnerships with companies that can recycle their office equipment for them.
While there are concerns about the added costs for office equipment manufacturers, proponents of the new law say it is a positive step forward in helping to cut the amount of electronic waste ending up in landfill sites.
As well as recycling unused office equipment, it could also be reused, for example in schools and offices in the developing world.
This is an idea supported by the charity Computer Aid, whose chief executive Tony Roberts believes recycling should be seen as a last resort as long as computers and other electronic items can be re-used elsewhere by those who cannot afford them.