It is still unclear how the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive will be put into practice, and manufacturers have said there is not enough time to get a system in place.
Most serious of the uncertainties still dogging the recycling directive is the formation of a national clearing house (NCH) to co-ordinate collection and treatment of electronic waste.
Manufacturers see an NCH as vital to the successful implementation of the directive.
They consider an independent, not-for-profit organisation acting as the link between manufacturers, recyclers, the government, retailers and local authorities collecting products covered by WEEE to be the fairest and most workable option.
Such an organisation would help determine what manufacturers have to pay towards recycling and refurbishment costs by working out their market share by the tonnage of electrical and electronic waste they generate.
Samsung, Sony and Fujitsu are among the companies that have formed the Strategic Electronic Waste Policy Forum to outline plans for the possible development of the NCH.
But it is still unclear how the concept should operate. And now the government has said it is up to industry to work out how the scheme will work.
In a final consultation document published last Friday the government said: "The establishment of an NCH poses a major timetable challenge. The government expects the producer community, which has pressed strongly for an NCH, now to take a leading role in taking this forward."
But some manufacturers believe it may be too late to set up a viable NCH.
"The key issue for this is now time and we don't have a lot of confidence the deadlines can be met," said Mike Dinsdale, marketing director for Brother.
"It also seems the Department of Trade and Industry [DTI] appears to have another agenda. It says it reserves the right to do something else, but what are its plans?"
The DTI has said that although the UK is behind schedule, countries including France and Germany appear to have shelved WEEE compliance indefinitely. The DTI believes an agreement can be reached by October and that an NCH is still a feasible proposition.
The government's consultation on the draft regulations and guidance will end on 29 October 2004.
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