Electronic Equipment: Waste Disposal

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered at on 23 May 2024.

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Photo of Baroness Hayman of Ullock Baroness Hayman of Ullock Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the scale of e-waste; and what steps they are taking to address this.

Photo of Lord Douglas-Miller Lord Douglas-Miller The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Defra is committed to delivering a more sustainable future for the UK and world. Supporting this it recently announced the world’s first United Nations-backed International Centre of Excellence on Sustainable Resource Management in the Circular Economy. In partnership with national and international partners the centre will deliver environmentally sustainable primary extraction of Critical Minerals and map the flow of these critical and priority minerals across their complete life cycle, from extraction to reuse, recovery to disposal.

Defra also published a consultation and a call for evidence on reforms to the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations 2013 with a view to improving levels of collection for re-use and recycling, improving treatment standards and critical mineral recovery from WEEE and wider measures in support of the circular economy. The consultation and call for evidence closed on 7 March. Defra is currently analysing the responses and will publish a summary of responses in due course.

The current regulations require producers to finance the collection and proper treatment of WEEE which has stimulated investment in WEEE treatment infrastructure.

Under the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007 obligated producers are required to obtain Packaging Waste Recycling Notes (PRNs), as evidence that a certain tonnage of packaging waste that has been recycled. The sale of PRNs generates millions of pounds of revenue a year for reprocessors and exporters of packaging waste (circa £490m in 2022), which should be re-invested to support development of the necessary recycling and reprocessing infrastructure.

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