PC manufacturers including Apple may be hit hard by a new European Union (EU) regulation, the company revealed in its quarterly report filed recently with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The EU is finalizing the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive, which makes electrical-goods manufacturers financially responsible for the collection, recycling and safe disposal of past and future products.

The directive is designed to reduce electrical and electronic waste disposed of in landfill sites and incinerators. Electrical and electronic equipment is one of the fastest growing contributors to waste in the EU, and is one of the largest sources of heavy metals and organic pollutants.

Apple's report explains: “The company's potential liability resulting from the directive related to past sales of its products and expenses associated with future sales of its product may be substantial.”

The draft version of the EU regulation says: “The entry into force of the financing obligation will be delayed by five years to minimise the impact on producers of the financing requirement regarding waste from products put on the market before entry into force of the legislation (historical waste).”