New recycling law will leave British jobs on the scrapheap, Toshiba boss warns

Toshiba has warned that new laws to encourage the recycling of household electrical goods are "fraught with danger" and could push UK manufacturing "over the edge".

The Government is in the process of turning a European directive on recycling into law, to come into effect next August. It wants retailers to collect old electrical products, such as mobile phones, televisions and computers, and hand them back to the manufacturers to be recycled.

But the Japanese electricals giant believes the proposals put too much onus on the electronics industry, and is urging the Government to redraft them. Alan Thompson, managing director of Toshiba UK, said: "Look at the retailers - they make good margins, as do the intellectual property owners. The people struggling with margin are those who screw the things together - the manufacturers."

He added: "The Government believes that private industry has a big wedge of money and it sees its primary responsibility to get business to fund this sort of thing. This may be true of some industries, but not electronics. The proposals are fraught with danger and if things play badly then it will push manufacturing over the edge."

Toshiba employs 1,200 people in the UK, with bases in Weybridge, Leeds, Plymouth and Camberley. Mr Thompson admitted Toshiba had considered withdrawing. The idea was shelved because it would have thwarted the company's global ambitions. But he warned that if Toshiba changed its mind "we'll just do it - we won't tell you in advance". He added: "It will be the law-abiding companies with strong ethics that will have to leave. The companies that are willing to take chances and find ways around the legislation will stay."

Mr Thompson said he wanted the Government to "take ownership" of the problem and manage the collec-tion of electrical goods.

Toshiba is also suffering from the pensions crisis. The company doesn't disclose details of its pension fund, but it has a large deficit. It is understood that Toshiba is lobbying the Treasury to re- instate dividend tax credits.

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