Households could soon find recycling old mobile phones and tablets made much easier under plans being considered by the UK Government.
Online retailers could be forced to take back electronic devices that they sold on their sites once they reach the end of their lives.
This would bring the obligations on digital giants, such as Amazon, in line with the stricter rules for physical retailers.
Shifting the burden of disposal on to the corporations would make recycling electronic devices, known as e-waste, much simpler for the consumer.
Other proposals could see local authorities collect e-waste at the kerbside along with the regular recycling.
This simplification of the system could help reduce the number of trips to local recycling centres and cut down on the volume of e-waste being disposed of incorrectly in landfills.
Some local authorities have already been trialing kerbside collection services for e-waste.
The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) was told that research had been commissioned by ministers to evaluate the success of these projects with the potential to roll-out similar schemes across the country later this year.
Conservative MP and chair of the EAC, Philip Dunne, 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.”
However, Mr Dunne said the Government’s proposals had ignored the EAC’s recommendation to call for the recovery of critical raw materials — such as tungsten and cobalt — from old electronics during the recycling process.
He said without reclaiming the metals, which are used in wind turbines, solar panels and car batteries, there was a “serious risk of creating supply shortages”.