UK businesses do not understand the full implications of the forthcoming Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive, and over half of IT managers claim not to care.
According to a survey by asset management company Mirec, 89 per cent of companies are unaware of the implications of WEEE, due to come into force in August 2005.
Under the directive, as long as equipment has not been rebranded by resellers, the ultimate responsibility for its disposal lies with the original equipment manufacturer (OEM).
System builders, however, will find that they are responsible if a product is badged under their company name.
"The responsibility lies with the name on the tin," confirmed a Department of Trade and Industry spokesman.
But sellers and resellers could be responsible for what is termed 'historic waste' if, for example, the OEM has ceased trading.
However, an amendment to the directive currently being discussed by the EU could change this and place the burden on the end user.
The Mirec research found that more than 55 per cent of those responsible for IT procurement claim that it is not their responsibility to worry about compliance.
Mirec suggested this shows that government at both a national and local level is failing to change attitudes.
Eva Milroy, Mirec's marketing manager, said that, despite some promising early signs about recycling initiatives at company level, the degree of ignorance is alarming.
"Companies don't know what their responsibilities are, what is affected and what other companies they should be working with," she said.
"It is up to government and trade organisations to explain to companies how they will be affected by the WEEE directive.
"There are no strategies in place; no one wants to make a decision, which means we are falling behind other EU countries."
Resellers are less charitable, believing that companies are not committed enough to environmental projects.
Greg Carlow, managing director of reseller Repton, said: "The WEEE directive could have an upside for resellers as it would allow us to increase the services we offer.
"The downside is, do our customers really care? I would be gob smacked if anyone had factored WEEE into their budget."
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