Critics predict bleak future on e-waste
Industry insiders say the abolition of a body charged with overseeing electronics recycling could mean more computing equipment ends up in landfills or is illegally exported overseas.
The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Advisory Board (WAB) was set up to co-ordinate UK compliance with the EU’s WEEE Directive on the disposal of electrical waste, but was closed down last month with its responsibilities passed over to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
There’s no point in having regulations if they are not enforced
Critics believe the closure could have grim consequences for the future of recycling schemes and waste disposal in the UK.
“It’s now been incorporated into the business department, but it has no additional funding for it and that means that there will be less work done on it,” said Jon Godfrey, director of recycling company Sims Lifestyle Services. “It was the only point of contact where everyone working in the industry could raise concerns and raise opinions concerning policy.”
“At the moment we have a chance to improve WEEE regulations in Britain, but the WAB was the only place that heard the opinions of smaller players and groups and didn’t just listen to the powerful corporations like the retailers and manufacturers.”
Worse still, says Godfrey, is that what regulations have been put in place to control the disposal of the hazardous components in computers and other electronics are not being backed by funding for proper enforcement.
“There cannot be a cut in funding for enforcement,” he said. “There’s no point in having regulations if they are not enforced and already we believe that around 50% is being exported to outside the EU. These cuts will only make matters worse.”
BIS representatives were unable to say what ongoing plans the department had in terms of funding within the department for administering the WEEE Directive.