UK electrical waste mountain growing
Research shows that UK households and businesses produce 1.45 million tons of electrical waste every year.
The e-waste research organization Material Focus estimates that at least 500,000 tons of waste have been thrown away, stolen or accumulated.
His latest study suggests that non-recycled appliances cost the UK over £ 370 million a year in lost materials such as gold, copper, aluminum and steel.
This is important because metal extraction leads to pollution.
In addition, it harms wildlife and feeds climate change.
Material Focus has a postcode locator to allow people to find the closest electronic waste recycling point for items such as toasters and old cables.
- Can we solve the problem of electronic waste?
And my photos?
The report says that many people cling to old laptops and phones because they contain photos or sensitive data.
He suggests an answer is to ask mobile phone shops to transfer data and restore old phones to the factory settings in front of you.
Reliable workshops may also erase the data for you, at a price. Some charity shops will also take e-waste like telephones.
There will be another option from January, when a new rule means you’ll be able to return an aged kettle, say, or a toaster when you buy a new one to any main store. Some stores already offer it.
The increase in electrical waste has been unstoppable as the population has grown and new consumer electronics has reached the market.
Many of the new purchases do not replace existing kits, but innovative consumer goods that were not previously available, such as smart speakers.
“Huge” waste figures
The academic responsible for the study was Alison Stowell at Lancaster University. He said to the BBC News: “These figures on electrical waste are quite huge.
“When we consume things, we don’t tend to think about how much material is contained in them or how useful they can be if they are put back in production and in the supply chain through recycling.”
The report states that 1.65 million tons of electrical equipment were sold in the UK in 2017, with 155,000 tons discharged into household bins and subsequently incinerated or sent to landfill.
Mark Hilton of consultancy Eunomia told BBC News: “The UK still cannot achieve its target of collecting 65% of electrical equipment.
“It is often too difficult for people to reach a recycling center, many of which are accessible only by car. We would like to see small electrical waste collected together with other recyclables from the front door.”
Request for collection vouchers
He also wants incentives offered like cash-backs or vouchers for unwanted electrical goods, which could help encourage people to get back on the street.
And he says it’s essential for ministers to force online platforms, such as Amazon, to take on a much greater end-of-life responsibility for the items their sellers place on the market, through perhaps safe deliveries.
This issue is now under discussion in the government. A spokesman for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: “We are committed to moving towards a more circular economy.
“We will review regulations on electrical items to encourage recycling, encourage better environmentally friendly design and ensure that manufacturers and retailers take responsibility for electrical waste.”
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