E-waste scheme could cost retailers over £1bn, warns trade body

British Retail Consortium (BRC) chief executive Helen Dickinson has warned the new e-waste scheme could cost retailers over £1 billion.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) ruled that, starting from 2026, UK retailers will pay for public e-waste recycling.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Dickinson said the scheme will become an “invisible charge that everybody pays”.

“We think [the bill would be] in the hundreds of millions of pounds plus, and could be £1 billion or more,” Dickinson added.

Dickinson warned that some small retailers might stop selling electrical items completely.

“If retailers have to take in more than they sell, some who only sell small volumes may stop selling them at all and larger supermarkets may also reduce the ranges offered, both reducing choice for customers,” she said.

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She also criticised the government for not engaging with businesses before the proposals were published.

She said: “The government has dithered for years and now announced proposals which are flawed as they chose not to collaborate with the retailers – who are vital to the success of increasing electrical recycling.”

A Defra spokesman said: “Every year millions of household electricals across the UK end up in the bin rather than being correctly recycled or reused. These proposals will make it easier for people to recycle electricals and drive the much-needed move to a more circular economy.

“We have been consulting widely on these plans, including with industry leaders and we will fully consider all consultation responses before setting out next steps.”

Currys chief executive Alex Baldock has also called out the UK government’s e-waste recycling reforms, claiming “the proposal won’t work”.

Circular economyClimate crisisNewsPolicyRetail

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