Official - dump the old toaster in any high street

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The Independent Online

Want to dump that old, furred-up kettle or wonky toaster? There will soon be the perfect place - your local electrical shop.

Want to dump that old, furred-up kettle or wonky toaster? There will soon be the perfect place - your local electrical shop.

The Department of Trade and Industry has come up with an environmentally friendly plan to stop people dumping discarded electrical goods on street corners. The shops that sell the products will be obliged to create "green zones" within the store where customers can return everything, from televisions and refrigerators to sandwich-makers and personal stereos.

The retailers think "green zone" a misleading term. They think "rubbish tip" would be more appropriate. Dixons is very worried by the proposal. The chain is the country's biggest electrical retailer, with more than 1,000 stores, and pays as much as £1,000 per square foot in rent just to maintain its presence on the high street.

"You would basically be turning a useful chunk of retail space into an indoor rubbish tip," said one industry source. "We approve of the idea of recycling, but this just doesn't make any sense."

The DTI plan is contained in its response to a proposal from the European Commission on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment. The EC is turning its attention to electrical goods following an earlier directive that all member states should be required to recycle waste arising from used consumer durables.

The DTI is now advocating that responsibility should be passed on to the retailer, but it is not clear whether shops would be responsible for items bought elsewhere, or a long time ago.

In one scenario, customers would be allowed to dump an old item only in a shop where they weres buying a new one. The same source said: "It would be a farce, with people going shopping carrying around old toasters."

Another issue is that the scope of the report is seen by some, including Dixons, as too ambitious. A spokesman said: "It is easy to understand how you would extract quantities of recyclable glass, metal and plastic from a fridge or TV, and we already do that. But the proposal covers things like small toys, which could be a problem."

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