Online retailers could soon be forced to take back customers unwanted or broken electrical goods under a newly proposed kerbside collection scheme.
The government is “exploring options” for rolling out a raft of new measures designed to tackle the growing issue of electronic waste across the UK, in response to a report published by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAP).
This could include forcing retailers like Amazon to collect old phones, TVs, laptops, tablets, white goods and other e-waste from outside their homes free of charge.
It could also see retailers forces to provide new labelling on electronic goods, informing customers how easy they are to repair and whether they contain useful recyclable parts.
MPs said the current system, which requires retailers selling more than five tonnes of electrical goods a year to pay for collection, recovery and recycling of their goods when they become waste, is not working.
Since 2014 retailers have been able to do this by paying local authorities to either collect old electrical items from homes when delivering new goods, processing electrical goods when they are brought to e-waste recycling centres.
While both online and physical retailer have to pay these fees, only online retailers with a physical presence are obligated to collect e-waste from customers homes, this could soon change.
“Levelling the playing field for online giants and physical retailers in the take-back of e-waste is important if we are to cut down on the amount of e-waste disposed of incorrectly,” chair of the EAP Philip Dunne MP said.
“We need to make urgent improvements to the reuse and recycling of such products, and I am pleased that the government has recognised the role online retailers and marketplaces should play in taking increased responsibility for the e-waste streams they help generate.”
In response to the proposed scheme, Amazon said it was “committed to minimising waste and helping our customers to reuse, repair and recycle their products.
“We provide easy ways for customers to recycle electronics through pre-paid postal return and home collection services on our Amazon Recycling website.”