26 December 2006

EU kills off small businesses - what's new?

Who could argue against this?

A race is on to inform more than a million small businesses that they become responsible for disposing of electrical waste — from dishwashers to calculators – from July next year. EU rules come into force making businesses responsible for taking back the two million tons of waste electrical and electronic equipment…that normally goes to landfill each year. Source
Well I will argue against it. Like much EU regulation it contrives to be both well-meaning – and to miss the point. If the objective is to reduce waste going into landfill, then why not set explicit, verifiable landfill goals and let people other than bureaucrats work out how best to achieve them? Why set up a new bureaucracy – because that is what these rules will do – to play around with activities that may or may not achieve reduce the rate of expansion of landfill?

It’s a typical, top-down, one-size-fits-all, government-mandated, pseudo-solution to what is probably a genuine problem. It’s also gesture politics, because it’s unlikely to achieve much, apart from employment for bureaucrats. Oh, it will probably achieve something: this sort of nonsense imposes proportionately bigger costs on small businesses. As the newspaper report continues:

But business leaders fear that only large retailers have any idea about the new obligation.
Precisely so: the main effect of these rules will be to increase still more the concentration in the retail industry that has already made clones out of every main shopping street in the UK.

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