Inquiry re-launched by government into Electronic Waste and the Circular Economy

Inquiry re-launched after previous inquiry halted due to the general election in 2019.

The stated aim of the inquiry is to ‘explore how the UK could reduce its environmental impact, create economic opportunities and maintain access to critical materials by better managing and minimising its e-waste.’

It previously launched last year with 51 submissions of evidence received, but was halted due to the general election before any hearings could take place. The Committee has said the previous submissions of evidence will be carried forward, with new or additional evidence currently welcomed on the following points by 30 April 2020:

Implementing a Circular Economy for Electronic Goods

  • What steps are being taken to move towards a circular economy for electronic goods? How can the UK Government support this transition?
  • What is the environmental and human health risk from e-waste? How significant is it and who is most at risk?
  • How can secondary markets for electrical goods be improved? What incentives are required to implement these markets?
  • Why does recovering materials from electronic waste pose a significant challenge? What support is required to facilitate the adoption of recovery technologies?

UK’s Electronic Waste Sector

  • Are UK Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) collection targets achievable? What challenges do UK producer compliance schemes and WEEE reprocessors face in meeting the collection targets?
  • What causes fraud in the UK’s e-waste system? How can this be addressed?
  • What action can the UK Government take to prevent to the illegal export of e-waste to the developing world?
  • What proposals does the UK Government need to consider as part of its consultation on WEEE?
  • Is UK public awareness of e-waste recycling satisfactory? If not, how can it be improved?

The re-launched inquiry follows the news earlier this month that the UK has missed the annual WEEE collection targets for the third year in a row, by a significant margin, with compliance schemes again forced to rely on the compliance fee mechanism. A recently released government review of the regulations also highlighted the various shortcomings of the WEEE system.

Provide ideas and options for increasing recycling

Ecosurety previously submitted feedback to the original Electronic Waste and the Circular Economy inquiry with particular emphasis on improving awareness and collection infrastructure, the setting of collection targets and the shift to service-based business models. Ecosurety are also members of the WEEE Scheme Forum who have been invited to give evidence directly to government as part of the new inquiry.

Robbie Staniforth, Head of policy at Ecosurety, commented “We are pleased to see the enquiry has been brought back by the new chair. We were concerned that the effort we put into making recommendations would have been wasted due to the hiatus and changes caused by the general election.”

“The government are due to consult on the regulations by the end of this year and we hope this enquiry will help to provide ideas and options for increasing the amount of electronics recycled or reused in the UK.”

You can submit evidence by 30 April 2020 via the inquiry webpage.

Ben Luger

Marketing projects specialist

Ben joined the team at the beginning of 2015 and helps drive marketing communications and projects for Ecosurety, including project managing the launch of the Ecosurety Exploration Fund and website content development.

Written by Ben Luger Published 18/03/2020 Topics Consultations
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