A new report by the UK Government’s Environmental Audit Committee reveals that the UK is the worst offender in Europe for illegally shipping its e-waste to developing countries.
Electronic Waste and the Circular Economy, authored by the cross-party parliamentary group, explores how the UK could reduce its environmental impact, create economic opportunities and maintain access to critical materials by better managing and minimising its waste electronic and electrical equipment.
It highlights that up to an estimated 40 per cent of e-waste collected in the UK – up to 209,000 tonnes – is illegally exported to developing countries such as Ghana, Nigeria or India, while around 155,000 tonnes of e-waste is sent to domestic landfill or incineration sites. The report makes around 30 recommendations on how the Government can better manage and minimise the country’s e-waste.
The report advises the Government to evaluate the current collection and recycling target systems, which it calls ‘unclear’ due to the Government’s practice of substantiating estimates for collection and recycling and a lack of transparency about how the items will be treated after collection.
Robbie Staniforth, Head of Policy at Ecosurety, commented: “We welcome many of the findings contained within this excellent report. There is simply too much short-termism in the current system of producer responsibility with little foresight on recycling and reuse ambitions in the UK.
“However, what this report outlines is that action is needed beyond merely setting ambitious recycling and reuse targets.
“To make good on their promise of a more circular economy in their 2018 Resources and Waste Strategy, the Government needs to legislate to increase product lifetimes, specifically relating to software updates and repairability.”