The government is seeking feedback on several proposals set to increase the accountability of manufacturers and retailers for recycling of their electrical appliances, including vapes.
The series of proposals, launched today by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), is aimed at boosting electronics and vape recycling by placing greater responsibility on manufacturers and retailers to manage the growing waste stream.
Under the plans, households could soon enjoy the convenience of dropping off unwanted toasters, hairdryers, and other small appliances alongside their regular rubbish bags.
Kerbside collections for these items, currently unavailable in most areas, could roll out across the country as early as 2026, and existing charges for appliance removal during delivery may also be scrapped, making responsible disposal even more seamless.
For larger items like washing machines and fridges, the government is considering expanding retailer-operated take-back schemes. Customers would no longer be charged for collection on delivery services. Many retailers, such as B&Q, John Lewis and Currys, currently offer a paid-for collection service for large electrical appliances when customers buy a similar item.
Disposable vapes, a rapidly growing source of e-waste, are also targeted in the proposals. The government is seeking views on introducing mandatory collection schemes funded by vape manufacturers and retailers, even if full recycling of these single-use products isn’t always possible.
These initiatives stem from concerns about the current state of electronics recycling. Each year, an estimated 155,000 tonnes of small household appliances are thrown away, and the number of discarded vapes has quadrupled in just one year. The UK is one of the world’s largest exporters of electronic waste, with some estimates reporting that 40% of the electronic waste collected is sent overseas.
The government hopes its proposals will significantly improve recycling rates and divert valuable resources from landfills.
Survey findings cited by Defra suggest that over three-quarters (77%) of householders would view a retailer as more environmentally responsible if they knew they offered an electrical recycling service. Additionally, many people view recycling as important, but are unaware of or have difficulty accessing recycling points for waste electricals.
Recycling minister Robbie Moore said the plans would ensure goods avoid being needlessly thrown away. “Every year, millions of household electricals across the UK end up in the bin rather than being correctly recycled or reused,” he said. “This is a sheer waste of our natural resources and has to stop.”
The proposed measures, a joint effort by the UK, Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Ireland governments, are now open for a 10-week public consultation, finishing on 7 March 2024. This is a chance for individuals and organizations to have their say on how best to tackle the growing e-waste challenge and build a more sustainable future.
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