The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations (which gets shortened to the amusing acronym WEEE) kicked in on June 1 and gave retailers the right to free collection and disposal of knackered fridges by the producer.
I looked into this for a forecourt retailer who had seen an ad from a commercial refrigeration company for free disposal up until June 1 with the implication that it wouldn't be free after that date.
I rang the DTI, which had already sent me a lot of guff on disposal of equipment but without mention of retail operations. A helpful bloke there went away to interpret the new regs as they apply to commercial refrigeration and came back to say that business end users have the right to free collection and disposal from the responsible producer at the end of a product's life.
If the product was sold after August 15, 2005, the responsible producer is whoever manufactured or imported the equipment. For products sold before that date, the producer of any replacement equipment is responsible.
For pre-05 refrigeration that is not being replaced, there is no right to free collection and disposal and the end user is responsible.
However, there is probably no such thing as a free service. The DTI man said: "Producers may wish to raise the prices of their products to reflect the additional costs associated with disposal, but this should be considered part of normal business negotiations rather than a separate legislative charge."
In other words, expect the price of fridges to go up.