MPs decry government e-waste policy

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Parliament

An influential group of MPs has hit out at lack of progress on electronic-waste management.

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) said it was “disappointed” with ministers’ response to a report it published in November 2020 calling for more efforts to create a circular economy for e-waste.

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A government consultation seeking views on reforms to the decade-old Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations closed last week.

But EAC chair Philip Dunne wrote to environment secretary Steve Barclay bemoaning the content of the proposals put to the public.

“We urge the government to expand the scope of this consultation to ensure that the broadest possible proposals can be brought forward in order to move the UK to a zero-waste economy,” he said.

“This is particularly important in regard to the lifespan of technology, its engineered obsolescence and encouraging repairability and reuse.”

The committee said recommendations it made more than three years ago for the government to incentivise design of recyclable products and mandate publication of material-use information, had not been included in the latest consultation.

Dunne said he looked forward to discussing the issue with Barclay at a committee hearing soon.

A government 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.”