Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Correspondence from the Director-General, British Retail Consortium (BRC) to Lord Haskins, Chairman, Better Regulation Task Force, 22 November 2001

  As you are aware during the summer the BRC launched a policy document, Transforming Regulation—Better for Business, Better for Consumers, in which we seek to move beyond the debate about how much regulation may or may not cost industry each year.

  We recognise that some form of regulation is a necessary function of Government. However, the BRC is anxious to ensure that, when the Government has to act, it does so in a way that does not stifle innovation and undermine the competitiveness of our industry. A situation has arisen this that exemplifies what happens when regulations are implemented without consultation and due consideration.

  Retailers, manufacturers and recycling companies have been forced to announce this week that anyone buying a new fridge of freezer will not have the old one taken away as part of the home delivery service that most stores offer. Consumers will be required to contact their local authority to have the appliance taken away for storage. From January EC regulation 2037/2000 requires that in order to be recycled all used fridges and freezers require the removal of CFCs from the foam insulation. The UK does not have a plant that is equipped to remove CFCs and therefore used fridges and freezers will be stored indefinitely as hazardous waste. As a result an existing take-back and recycling infrastructure has been destroyed overnight.

  The Government has ignored warnings from our industry that regulation would have a significant impact on retailers, manufactures, local authorities and consumers alike. It is unfortunate that the issue has come to a head in the same week that the Government has held a waste summit to call for local authorities to make a greater effort to recycle waste.

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