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Environmental Audit Committee announce enquiry into WEEE sector and the Circular Economy

27th June 2019

Cherry Whittaker

Today (27 June 2019), the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), chaired by Labour MP Mary Creagh, have launched a new enquiry to investigate implementing a Circular Economy for WEEE, as well as the current state of the sector, including reviewing the suitability of the 2019 collection targets

This comes as a result of a high increase of electronic waste in recent years, due to technology advancement and usage of electronic items rapidly growing; a trend expected to continue by cause of consumer demand. As of the current date, there are already more electronic devices connected to the internet than there are humans on the Earth!

To provide some context, Europe and the US collectively account for approximately half of all e-waste globally, with the EU predicted to produce 12 million tonnes of e-waste by next year (2020). Historic figures show that unfortunately, 90% of e-waste was sent to landfill or not disposed of in a responsible manner across the globe in 2017, therefore, highlighting the need to identify and implement measures which will drive recycling levels up and increase reuse.

Specifically, some of the key areas the EAC are seeking information and views upon are as follows (this is not an exhaustive list):

  • What steps are being taken to move towards a circular economy for electronic goods? How can the UK Government support this transition?
  • How can secondary markets for electrical goods be improved?
  • Why does recovering materials from electronic waste pose a significant challenge?
  • Are UK Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) collection targets achievable? What challenges do UK producer compliance schemes and WEEE re-processors face in meeting the collection targets?
  • What causes fraud in the UK’s e-waste system? How can this be addressed?

Justifying the need for this WEEE enquiry, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, Mary Creagh MP, said:

“Our old fridges, freezers, computers, TVs, kettles and mobile phones are piling up in a ‘tsunami of e-waste’.

“New phone launches, cheaper goods, and built-in obsolescence have contributed to the growth of electronic waste in recent years.

“The UK produces more e-waste than the EU average. We are missing EU targets and are one of the worst offenders for exporting waste to developing countries, who are ill equipped to dispose of it in a socially and environmentally responsible way.

“Our attitude to e-waste is unsustainable and the need for radical action clear. We will be investigating the UK’s e-waste industry and looking at how we can create a circular economy for electronic goods.”

In relation to the UK WEEE Regulations, government will be publishing a review of the current legislation in the coming months, which will be followed by a consultation regarding amending the regulations, expected to be released by the end of 2020. In line with the current EAC enquiry, this consultation will examine possible methods to boost electronic waste recycling and incentivise sustainable product design. We will communicate full details regarding this upcoming review on our website as soon as it released by government.

The deadline for making a written submission to the EAC’s WEEE enquiry is Friday 16 August 2019 which you can do HERE

Comply Direct plan to respond to the enquiry, so please don’t hesitate to contact us if you’d like to have your views incorporated into our scheme response or if you need any guidance making your own submission, we’d be happy to help with this also. Please email consultation@complydirect.com or call 01756 794 951