Correspondence from Dixons Group plc to
the Permanent Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and
Rural Affairs, 17 December 2001
When we met here and subsequently at the BRC,
I was gratified by your response to the problem as we see it relating
to the disposal of old refrigerators. I also accept and welcome,
as far as it goes, the announcement you have made regarding local
authority responsibility for disposal and the support DEFRA is
giving local authorities.
This being said, the basic problem as far as
we are concerned is still not addressed. We and the rest of the
industry have discontinued collecting old refrigerators from customers
because we have no means of disposing of them.
Whilst customers are accepting this line and
understand clearly why we and others have had to discontinue this
service, early indications are that sales are being adversely
affected and as refrigerators are manufactured in the UK the domino
effect will be obvious. As I advised you when we met, the situation
is likely to deteriorate sharply in January as we go into the
peak season for refrigerator sales.
The irony of all this is that we and others
are quite happy to resume collecting old refrigerators. Our problem
is that we have nowhere to take them nor can we ourselves store
them, if we are minded to do so, since they are now classified
as hazardous waste.
It is clear to us, as I am sure it is clear
to you, that this problem will not go away. Pressure is going
to mount and criticism is going to become ever more strident.
Eventually a solution will have to be found. It seems to me self-evident
that it will be best that such a solution should be found sooner
rather than later.
It must be in the public's interest, local authorities'
interest and the Government's interest that companies like us
should resume collection of old refrigerators. All that is necessary
for us to do so is for there to be designated collection points
which are obligated to take them, which do not charge us for the
privilege and which do not require us to sort them out by the
local authority of the customers concerned.
You will forgive me if I say that I cannot understand
why this nettle cannot be grasped.