Friday, July 30, 2021
Smartphone news

You could soon put old mobile phones and tablets out with recycling in new plans

Households could soon put their unwanted mobile phones and tablets out for collection with the rest of their recycling under plans currently being considered by ministers.

In a statement to the Environmental Audit Committee, the Government said it was “exploring options for rolling out kerbside collections” for e-waste items.

The Government said it was assessing how costs of a national street pick-up scheme should be “apportioned” and confirmed a consultation would be carried out “later this year”.

Philip Dunne MP, committee chairman of the Commons committee, said he was “pleased” to see recognition from ministers that efforts were needed to make e-recycling easier.

Ministers have also confirmed they are considering whether to require online retailers, such as Amazon, to collect old electronics to bring them into line with obligations on physical retailers.

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Young girl is devastated after her mobile phone is broken
Broken phones can be recycled – but it is not as easy as for home plastic waste (stock image)

Ministers have also said they are looking at introducing provisions within the Environment Bill to improve awareness for consumers about how easy it is to recycle and repair products to help inform buyer choices, officials said in their reply to the committee.

Tory MP Mr 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.

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“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.

“It is also reassuring that the Environment Bill could pave the way for better labelling on the recyclability of products and informing consumers what components have been recycled.

File photo dated 08/09/17 of a man using an Uber App on his mobile phone.
Our phones contain all kinds of metals and elements (stock image)

“As the Bill’s passage through Parliament has been delayed, it may be some time until we see products on shelves giving this detail. It is important that the Government keeps up the pace towards this goal.”

However, Mr Dunne said the Government had ignored the committee’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”.

Michael Briggs, Head of Sustainability at Which?, said: “This proposal that would give consumers more ways to dispose of their electronic devices sustainably is a step in the right direction, but to address the UK’s growing electronic waste problem, more must be done to increase the lifespan of smart devices.

“Manufacturers should be designing more durable devices that are easier and cheaper for consumers to repair. Security updates are also important for the functionality of smart devices, so tech firms must be more transparent about vital security updates, and those offering them for only a couple of years need to do better.

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“The government must also push ahead with planned legislation, backed by strong enforcement, to ensure manufacturers are much clearer about security updates for smart devices.”


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