Gov to investigate 'growing tsunami' of UK e-waste

Inquiry will assess UK's efforts to create a circular economy

Discarded monitors

MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) have launched an inquiry into rising levels of electronic waste (e-waste), which they say is amounting to a "tsunami" of wasted technology.

The chair of the EAC, Mary Creagh, announced on Thursday that the investigation will evaluate the UK's system of discarding old technology and assess current efforts to build a more circular economy.

E-waste in the UK is managed under the EU's Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive and The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2013. According to the EAC, the UK produces 24.9kg of e-waste per person, significantly higher than the EU average of 17.7kg.

However, it is a global problem, with 44.7 million tones of e-waste produced in 2017, 90% of which went to landfill, incinerated or illegally traded. Europe and the US account for almost half of this, with the EU predicted to produce 12 million tonnes by 2020.

Creagh called it a "tsunami of e-waste", saying that new phone launches, cheaper goods and built-in obsolescence have contributed to the growth of electronic waste in recent years.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

"The UK produces more e-waste than the EU average," she said. "We are missing EU targets and are one of the worst offenders for exporting waste to developing countries, who are ill-equipped to dispose of it in a socially and environmentally responsible way.

"Our attitude to e-waste is unsustainable and the need for radical action clear. We will be investigating the UK's e-waste industry and looking at how we can create a circular economy for electronic goods."

It's said that there are now more devices connected to the internet than there are humans on the planet. This is predicted to continue, fuelled by rising consumer demand and decreasing costs.

In 2018, Greenpeace estimated that just 16% of e-waste was recycled responsibly. Reports also suggested that large tech companies like Apple were over-producing hardware that couldn't be recycled.

In 2016, the iPhone maker launched its wireless AirPods, however, according to Wired, the hardware has been designed in a way that makes it impossible to replace damaged or faulty batteries.

Featured Resources

The essential guide to cloud-based backup and disaster recovery

Support business continuity by building a holistic emergency plan

Download now

Trends in modern data protection

A comprehensive view of the data protection landscape

Download now

How do vulnerabilities get into software?

90% of security incidents result from exploits against defects in software

Download now

Delivering the future of work - now

The CIO’s guide to building the unified digital workspace for today’s hybrid and multi-cloud strategies.

Download now
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/cloud/microsoft-azure/354230/microsoft-not-amazon-is-going-to-win-the-cloud-wars
Microsoft Azure

Microsoft, not Amazon, is going to win the cloud wars

30 Nov 2019
Visit/cloud/amazon-web-services-aws/354223/what-to-expect-from-aws-reinvent-2019
Amazon Web Services (AWS)

What to expect from AWS Re:Invent 2019

29 Nov 2019
Visit/hardware/354232/raspberry-pi-4-owners-complain-of-broken-wi-fi-when-using-hdmi
Hardware

Raspberry Pi 4 owners complain of broken Wi-Fi when using HDMI

29 Nov 2019
Visit/mobile/google-android/354189/samsung-galaxy-a90-5g-review-simply-the-best-value-5g-phone
Google Android

Samsung Galaxy A90 5G review: Simply the best value 5G phone

22 Nov 2019