A new inquiry has been launched by MPs into e-waste and the potential development of a circular economy to circumvent an electronic waste crisis.
The Environmental Audit Committee has stated the increased use of electronic devices and equipment is causing an e-waste epidemic. In an announcement it said:
"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,"
"This growth has led to a rapid increase in electronic waste (e-waste). Globally, 44.7 million tonnes of e-waste were produced in 2017, 90% of which was sent to landfill, incinerated, illegally traded or treated in a sub-standard way."
Nearly half of the world’s e-waste comes from Europe and the US, government statistics show. In the next year, the EU will generate 12 million tonnes of electronic waste alone.
Politicians hope that this inquiry will allow them to assess the true extent of this problem in the UK, through investigating the e-waste industry they can analyse how a circular economy for electronic goods can be developed.
In order to introduce a circular economy for electronic goods, MPs will be examining the required measures needed to achieve this. Some of the areas that MPs will need to focus on are; the environmental and human health risk posed by e-waste; how can secondary markets for electrical goods be improved; and why does recovering materials from e-waste pose a significant challenge.
The UK’s e-waste sector will be taken into consideration, investigations into whether current WEEE collection targets are achievable; causes of fraud in the UK’s e-waste system; action the UK Government can take to stop the illegal export of e-waste to the developing world; and if UK public awareness of e-waste recycling is satisfactory.
Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee Mary Creagh MP said: "Our old fridges, freezers, computers, TVs, kettles and mobile phones are piling up in a ‘tsunami of e-waste'.
"New phone launches, cheaper goods, and built-in obsolescence have contributed to the growth of electronic waste in recent years."
She added: "The UK produces more e-waste than the EU average. 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."
We at SAR group encourage you to join this initiative of circular economics, by sending us you e-waste inquiries and help prolong the life of unused electronics.