Stiff Penalties for Non-Compliance with Computer Recycling Laws

November, 2006

IT asset management has long been concerned with activities at the front-end of the asset life-cycle; namely, the procurement and maintenance of computer equipment. However, new laws and regulations are bringing a renewed focus on the end of the life-cycle: disposal.

This Research Byte is a summary of our full report, New Regulations on Disposal of Computer Equipment.

The new regulations make non-compliance an expensive option. Since 2002, governmental organizations around the world have written new legislation concerning the proper disposal of electronic equipment (e-waste). Failure to comply with the new disposal regulations can result in fines up to tens of thousands of U.S. dollars–but the repercussions are even worse for manufacturers, which face new material restrictions and mandates to allow customers to return obsolete products. The penalty for manufacturing non-compliant electronic goods under the new WEEE directive (see Figure 1), for example, is frighteningly vague. Each European Union (EU) member state has the right to enforce its own unique penalties, so long as they are “effective, proportionate and dissuasive.” So far, those penalties reportedly include 15-million-Euro fines and prison sentences for manufacturing executives, although there is no evidence that anyone has yet incurred either one.

Although the majority of the new guidelines impose obligations on the manufacturers of electronic equipment, the laws are expanding rapidly to include disposal violations for end-users as well. We recommend that all organizations become familiar with the new regulations in every location where they do business. Figure 1 provides a summary of the most pertinent new regulations concerning e-waste.

Disposal Regulations Fig1 - Stiff Penalties for Non-Compliance with Computer Recycling Laws

The full version of this report outlines the pertinent laws and guidelines regarding the manufacture and disposal of computer equipment and provides guidelines for selecting a qualified e-cycler as a strategy to ensure compliance.

As the definition of e-waste changes, so should the methods for its disposal. It is more important than ever for IT decision makers to understand the relevant laws and regulations and ensure that all internal policies and procedures for disposal of electronic equipment are compliant with these regulations. Once these policies and procedures are in place, outsourcing the actual disposal process to a qualified service provider can be the best strategy to maintain compliance.

November 2006

This Research Byte is a brief overview of our report on this subject, New Regulations on Disposal of Computer Equipment. The full report is available at no charge for Computer Economics clients, or it may be purchased by non-clients directly from our website at  (click for pricing).