The European Commission enacted the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment directive, but member countries have been responsible for implementing and enforcing it on their own. The UK's regulations became effective two years ago, and they require all producers of such waste to register with a company licensed to handle the disposal or recycling of those products.
In a ZDNet UK blog post, Richard Johnson, of recycling company IT-Green, reminds us that complying with WEEE requires due diligence on the part of producers and distributors to determine that the recycler they are using is actually licensed. He says:
Hundreds... are falling foul of unlicensed computer recycling companies. However, why should this matter to you?... If the e-waste is recycled by a legitimate company, 9 times out of 10, it'll be properly treated and if some is exported, responsibility falls on the licensed recycler. ...However, if the recycler is unlicensed and the weee is exported, it remains the original holder's responsibility (called duty of care). Asset tags, computer data and screen burn could all lead back to the producer. Prosecution could quite easily ensue.
The lesson here: Always be sure that the recycler you're working with is licensed and that the license it purports to have is current and actually issued in its name.