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UK Government to consider requiring online marketplaces to collect eWaste from customers 

February 26, 2021

The UK Government could require online retailers and marketplaces to collect old electronics from consumers to ensure there is an equal obligation to collect e-waste as physical retailers. The move could make it easier for consumers to recycle old electrical items while ensuring retailers are not disadvantaged compared to online competitors. 

Responding to the UK Environmental Audit Committee’s report on Electronic Waste in the Circular Economy, the UK Government said that requiring online retailers and market places to collect eWaste from customers is a commitment being considered.

Retailers selling more than 5 tonnes of electronic and electrical equipment each year must finance the costs of collection, treatment, recovery and recycling of those materials when they become waste. They can do this by paying fees to local authorities or organising the collection of e-waste when delivering new goods.

Since the 1st of January this year, retailers with physical stores have had to enable customers to bring unwanted goods back to their stores. Online sellers and marketplaces are not obliged to take back items themselves and only pay fees to help fund council waste centres.

The Government is also consulting on rolling out kerbside collection for e-waste. It will also explore ways to enhance retailer obligations to provide more collection points for e-waste for consumers.

The Government is also considering the requirement for better product labelling to enable consumers to make more sustainable purchasing decisions and reduce their resources consumption. The proposed labelling would indicate which components are recycled and how repairable the item is. This would improve consumer awareness about the repairability and recyclability of products. 

The Government rejected the recommendation to reduce VAT on repair services. The Government argued that any resultant loss in tax revenue would have to be balanced elsewhere. The Committee believes that the measures would have reduced the financial barriers to the repair of electrical items.

The Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee Chairman, Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, said: “Levelling the playing field for online giants and physical retailers in the take-back of e-waste is important if we are to cut down on the amount of e-waste disposed of incorrectly. We need to make urgent improvements to the reuse and recycling of such products, and I am pleased that the Government has recognised the role online retailers and marketplaces should play in taking increased responsibility for the e-waste streams they help generate.”

Categories : World Focus

Tags : Collection E-waste Reuse UK

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