Consumers will be key to making sure inkjet cartridge manufacturers stick to the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive, according to the Environment Agency.
The government agency will monitor how companies fulfil their commitment to recycling and end-of-life disposal for larger electrical products.
But the smart chip clause in the directive, which bans the use of chips that prevent cartridges being reused, will require consumer vigilance if it is to be effective.
Geoff Cooper, a spokesman for the Environment Agency, said that it had yet to be decided how consumers should report breaches of the directive.
"We are keeping an eye on the bigger picture at the agency but inkjet cartridges will probably be an area that will be looked after by something like Trading Standards. So it is partly up to consumers to keep an eye on the situation," he said.
David Connett, editor of The Recycler magazine, said consumers had a big role to play in making WEEE a success, including sending spent cartridges (up to a dozen at a time) to recyclers.
"Recycling is a sound principle," he said. "Currently around 70 per cent of cartridges are sent to landfill that could be sent to remanufacturers.
"There are a lot of organisations that will take these, including charities. Some companies also pay people to send in cartridges."
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