Government fails to grasp the scale of the ‘e-waste tsunami’, MPs warn

The government is failing to “grasp fully the scale of the e-waste tsunami”, MPs have warned.

The Environment Audit Committee also said the government has made “little progress” in tackling the problem of electronic waste, as it called for more to be done to promote a circular economy, including using, reusing and recycling electronic projects.

The government published a report in 2020 which said that every UK household had 20 unused electronic items at home.

Committee chairman Philip Dunne told environment secretary Steve Barclay his committee’s report had made 27 recommendations. In response, the government fully accepted one and part-accepted 22 of them.

He wrote: “The committee is disappointed to observe that while a number of our recommendations were accepted in whole or in part, the measures on which the government is currently consulting do not appear to implement any of them.”

MPs have called on the government to broaden the scope of its current consolation on electronic waste, which includes proposals to make retailers responsible for the collection and recycling of electronic products.          

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However, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it was already working to help people recycle their e-waste responsibly. 

A spokesperson said: “Every year millions of household electricals across the UK end up in the bin rather than being correctly recycled or reused. This is a waste of our natural resources and has to stop.

“We are taking clear action on this issue – including proposals to make it easier to recycle and reuse unwanted gadgets and electricals and a ban on disposable vapes, which represent a huge and growing stream of hard-to-recycle waste. We will continue to drive forward our ambitions to move to a more circular economy.”

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

Currys chief executive Alex Baldock has previously said the UK government’s e-waste recycling reforms “won’t work”.

Circular economyClimate crisisNature and the environmentNet zeroNewsPolicySocial sustainability

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