back to article UK government may force online retailers to pick up e-waste from consumers

Britain's government is mulling a proposal from the cross-party Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) that would force online retailers to collect old electronics from customers for recycling. Although this would theoretically limit the amount of old kit sent to landfill, and thus the amount of raw materials that need to be …

  1. graeme leggett

    Lack of knowledge/demand by consumer?

    It strikes me most consumers are not aware of the requirement for retailers to take waste electricals off your hands when you buy a new one, and that retailers do not do a good job of informing people (because of the extra work for them it would generate).

    I seem to recall when we bought a new washing machine locally a few years back, the seller would deliver for modest sum but wanted extra to take the old appliance back to their warehouse where they would be obligated to take it. In retrospect I should have borrowed a trailer, lumped the old one in the back of it and left it by their showroom.

    Retailers probably hope that consumers will shove the old item in a drawer or garage and when they do get round to clearing out, make the journey to their local council tip rather than turning up in store broken kettle in hand.

    1. NeilPost Silver badge

      Re: Lack of knowledge/demand by consumer?

      Most of them have opted to cough money up to the local councils across the country - effectively subsidising the ‘small electrical’ skip and TV/fridge container recumucle at the local dump.

      Reading the article

      1. Why is this a even thing??... surely any retailer of electrical stuff should be factoring in WEEE costs.

      2. Just pass the legislation to level this up- indeed due to huge volume of low level electrical tat a raid on Amazon, AO, eBay, Very, JLP, Groupon, Wowchet should have their finances raided.

      Use the money to setup indigenous recycling for electrical stuff and plastics which are still woefully inadequate - much still exported to ‘shit holes’ around the world or burnt for electricity - see plastics/Dispatches next week.

  2. hoola Silver badge

    All well and good..

    Just how can you see the likes of Amazon and responding to this? Most people simply don't take the stuff back to physical shop as it is.

    The only winners I can see are the companies that gets to take the packaged up stuff from the end user and takes it to the "recycling centre", ie landfill in the UK or in a container to which ever country is currently easiest to illegally ship the stuff to.

    E-Waste has always been a problem and will continue to increase as we generate ever more crap. The biggest problem is that much the stuff that is produced is too cheap and does not reflect that actual cost. Add to that the built-in obsolescence of things that are only a few years old and you can see why we are in such a mess.

    Our local tip has some 20' containers for placing electronic items in. The one for flat panel is full of huge wall-sized things and I just cannot believe that they are all failed. If they have then it is bonkers and the manufactures should be hauled in and if they are not, just why are people constantly replacing perfectly good equipment. The only conclusions I can come up with:

    Most don't care.

    Most don't give a stuff about the environmental impact their tech has.

    Having the newest/biggest is more important.

    People have too much disposable income/credit.

    A few genuinely believe the bullshit that the stuff is recycled responsibly.

    1. Sometimes an Engineer

      Re: All well and good..

      I'm actually surprised about the flat screens. My local tip has a special area for monitors/TVs/whitegoods where they try and repair and re-use anything thats worth it, as a lot of items are still very useable if a bit dated. Though I think this is run by some local group in conjunction with the council, so not sure how widespread it is.

    2. fwthinks

      Re: All well and good..

      I agree that most people don't care, but this kind of issue was resolved a long time ago - get money back when you return an item - just like the old drinks bottles.

      I think we can resolve both the waste and fixablity issues - by charging a set fee for electronics which is proportional to the size, expected lifespan and ease of repairing. For example if you charge £200 extra for a iPhone then you get that money back when you return it to the vendor that sold it. For large stuff like TV's you might end up paying an additional 100% of the purchase price because they generate so much waste.

      At least charging upfront would solve the issues of dealing with companies that only exist for a few months or customers who can't be bothered to try to dispose of items sensibly.

      1. onemark03 Bronze badge

        money back when you return it to the vendor that sold it

        Agreed but it should be any vendor. The vendor you bought the device from could - theoretically - go out of business - before you return it.

        Here in Germany the supermarkets charge extra on returnable drinks containers (bottles and cans) which they repay you - usually as a credit on your next bill - when you bring back your empties.

    3. Zimmer
      Unhappy

      Re: All well and good..

      "Most don't care.

      Most don't give a stuff about the environmental impact their tech has.

      Having the newest/biggest is more important.

      People have too much disposable income/credit."

      You missed one..

      Smart TVs are not so smart if the manufacturer fails to upgrade the software and viewers lose some of the inbuilt 'apps' / features they have gotten used to.

      Managed to pass on a flat screen to a friend a couple of years ago but BBC iPlayer and YouTube had both ceased to function following tech changes at the source and no upgrade/patch from Sony..

      Current TV is showing signs of falling behind as iPlayer works from the APPS section, but not from the TV's built-in catch-up feature... (National Panasonic, in case you were wondering)

      Personally, I'm ready with a laptop or a Raspberry Pi to take over as and when the inevitable occurs - the other 90% of viewers are probably not ..

      1. 1947293

        Re: All well and good..

        An Amazon Fire Stick or similar works fine as a replacement for abandoned smart features on a TV. Easier than a Pi though doubtless less fun.

    4. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: All well and good..

      The business model of certain companies relies upon selling a cheap and irreparable device that is deliberately engineered to have a lifetime that will only exceed the warranty period by the time required for a politician to forget an inconvenient fact.

      As the disposal of this device is then via sticking it in the local dump's recycling section the costs are carried by the local council, not the consumer or suppliers. Therefore, the customer doesn't care, the supplier doesn't care, the supply chain doesn't care and the manufacturer doesn't care. Pretty much all equipment looks like this now because everybody else has either been driven out of business, has adopted this business model to compete or they produce a niche device that is not capable of competing in the mass market.

      As soon as the costs are attributed to anywhere other than where it is at the moment then people are going to start caring.

      If the supplier of new equipment is required to collect and dispose of the old device at their cost then the awful manufacturers still wouldn't care; people don't tend to deliberately repeatedly buy shit equipment so chances are that the people paying to dispose of the cheap unreliable equipment wouldn't be the ones making, stocking or supplying it. This would be an awful idea, IMO.

      However; If the supplier of the original equipment that broke gets the bill (or their supplier in the supply channel, should the end seller go out of business) with a waiver for if a device has a repairability score of less than 10, then what would you expect would happen?

      Suppliers wouldn't want to import, transport, warehouse or stock anything with a repairability score of less than 10. The supply chain as a whole would quickly start considering considering handling containers full of lower quality kit with all the enthusiasm of an equivalent weight of radioactive waste. At the very least, prices of touching anything from that container would rise massively to cover the anticipated risk of it arriving back to them in the future. That would immediately mean that "cheap" irreparable devices with expensive recycling costs would rise in cost to the point that actually they weren't cheap anymore and would be displaced in the marketplace by more repairable equipment.

    5. NeilPost Silver badge

      Re: All well and good..

      Most large bricks retailers don’t either. They just cough money up to local councils for the store and outsource responsibilities.

      Try taking your next broken TV or kettle back to Tesco or John Lewis for recycle and see what response you get.

  3. Kit_

    When forcing online retailers to pick up e-waste, there needs to be some clauses relating to ease of online submission. As an example of bad behaviour - I saw Amazon making a song and dance in a recent news article about how they already have a recycling program and will pick up e-waste from customers' houses.

    "Ok - that sounds good." I though, I do have a broken item right here I would like to be rid of. So off we toddle to Amazon's recycling page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201819410

    "For equipment weighing less than 30kg, Amazon will pay for the cost of your return. You can print a prepaid label with the Landbell Group. Once your item is properly packed, you can bring it to one of the drop-off points or arrange a collection".

    So - how do we 'arrange collection' ? No link, no information. So does that count for them to pick up e-waste if you have to be chums with the one guy in Amazon who arranges these pickups? They want to say they do something without actually allowing anyone to do it - or otherwise make it as hard as possible to arrange.

    What about if I did a chat with Amazon support? What are the bets for how long and painful that customer service experience would be? How many times would they insist for me to do drop the thing off somewhere by myself before escalating to a high enough manager who will follow the words they promise? And then do I have to box it up all nicely with printed labels inside and out?

    On a different topic - an easy way to cut down on e-waste is to extend the warranty period by an extra year. Things we buy really shouldn't be built to break after only a year - so it reduces waste and improves quality. I remember Europe discussing this in the past, but it seems to have fizzled out for some reason.

    1. Steve K Silver badge

      Collection Link

      It looks like you actually arrange a collection via the LandBell Group link, so Amazon means "follow this link to arrange a drop off or collection"

      1. Kit_

        Re: Collection Link

        Ahh - true. The instructions weren't immediately clear enough for the idiot behind this keyboard though. Although to be fair in the original page the way all the other options are hyperlinked up and the pickup option isn't made it look like a dead end.

    2. PTW
      Facepalm

      RE: extra year's warranty

      Not sure that'd be much use anyway, the UK Goods and Services Act gives you 6 years, not two, hardly anyone resorts to it. And a quick read of the reviews on Amazon will show you folks are too dumb or have too much disposable income... "This was rubbish, worked for a week then wouldn't even turn on, well that's £200 in the bin" or "worked for the first year then failed, but I liked it so much I bought another"

      And looking at you Philips, where the only way to remove the battery from a £150 toothbrush is to destroy it ready for recycling. <-- not my toothbrush

      1. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid Bronze badge

        Re: RE: extra year's warranty

        The six years in the UK's consumer rights act (which superceded the sale of goods act) isn't a 6 year warranty. It gives the consumer up to 6 years to pursue a claim against a trader.

        With you on the Amazon reviews thing though. Some people seem too keen to not pursue their consumer rights.

      2. Peter X

        Re: RE: extra year's warranty

        For £200 I'd make the effort, but I did buy a Philips Wireless Mouse ('cos obviously, Philips are the go-to-brand for mice! ;-) ) largely because it was cheap (I think ~£8) despite a few reviews mentioning that their's had stopped working soon after purchase.

        Mine lasted about 9 months; at this point, it's less easy to get Amazon to deal with returns. After some Googling, I found you could go through some convoluted process where you get to talk to a rep (or a bot, I'm not certain) who, did in my case, say they would accept it and refund me and then gave me details of where to drop it off. It wasn't the local post-office though, and was a shop about 20 minutes drive away! So... I didn't do that at the time, and then when I did decide I would be going that way, I noticed that I'd only been given a week to deal with it.

        In this case, the money isn't particularly worth it, but I do resent that Philips make products that I'm pretty sure they must've known were defective. So, yet more e-waste.

        My local council do take small (up to shoe box sized) electronic waste with the regular recycling collection, so I'll likely dump my mouse in that.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Things we buy really shouldn't be built to break after only a year - so it reduces waste and improves quality. I remember Europe discussing this in the past, but it seems to have fizzled out for some reason."

      Are you referring to this: https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/consumers/shopping/guarantees-returns/faq/index_en.htm#:~:text=EU%20law%20give%20you%20a,normally%20without%20any%20faults%20appearing

      They passed it some time ago :)

  4. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    A lot of kit is "designed" to be thrown away

    Virtually all computers were originally designed to be repaired and restored to operation in the old days. TV sets too, phones, and kitchen appliances as well. But these days everything is designed to be thrown away to boost the manufacturers profits.

    I wonder if it's possible to pick up all the e-waste, grind it to sub-millimetre grains and then run the mess through the same set of processes used to extract gold, cobalt, lithium, tantalum etc etc from nature?

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: A lot of kit is "designed" to be thrown away

      I wonder if it's possible to pick up all the e-waste, grind it to sub-millimetre grains and then run the mess through the same set of processes used to extract gold, cobalt, lithium, tantalum etc etc from nature?

      As I understand it, that's pretty much how it's done. Grind up scrap, use magnets to sort ferrous & non-ferrous and send to a smelter. Or waste is picked for parts that might contain more valuable stuff, ie chips to grind and smelt for gold recovery. Downside is cost, waste, and potential pollution from recovery processes. Plus AFAIK, some materials like lithium can't easily be recovered from batteries, or recovered in a useful, reusable form.

      1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

        Re: A lot of kit is "designed" to be thrown away

        This is why we should just bury our (economically) un-recyclable waste.

        In future it will be economical recyclable and people will pay for access to the former landfill sites to extra the precious materials.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: A lot of kit is "designed" to be thrown away

          It will only be economically viable because prices will have gone through the roof if you don't recycle. That's not quite the point of recycling. Still, the invisible hand and all that.

          1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

            Re: A lot of kit is "designed" to be thrown away

            You recycle the stuff you can recycle without subsidy and bury the stuff that you can't.

            I'm not talking about things that can already be economically recycled.

            If the price of the raw material increases and the buried waste becomes valuable then fine. If it doesn't increase and we keep burying the waste then fine - good that we haven't wasted resources by recycling something that we can't economically recycle.

            Yes, leave it to the invisible hand.

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: A lot of kit is "designed" to be thrown away

              You remember your Smith, don't you? How about you also remember your Sidgwick and Pigou? Know what they did?

              What they did and you're not taking into account is the concept of externalities. In the field of waste recycling, there are several negative externalities. They include the following:

              1. Disposal by burial is expensive. We usually end up paying for a lot of it from our taxes, even if we're not the ones burying stuff there. That's just the financial cost. There are others. Let's see them.

              2. Burial means there is potentially dangerous stuff in our ground which causes risks to groundwater, which means a more expensive effort needed to protect that, and limits how else we can use the land. Not everything can be done on top of garbage. Now we have less land available for other uses.

              3. If we have a demand for a certain amount of the mineral and we're not getting any from recycling, then we're going to mine that amount. We now add all the externalities related to that mining. Some of these minerals are not easy to mine or are mined in countries without environmental regulations which don't bother keeping pollutants in check. That's a large one in itself and there are others we won't list here because we have to stop sometime.

              4. Costs of shipping this stuff. You're likely using lithium mined in South America. It's shipped from there to China, made into batteries, and shipped to wherever you are. By recycling lithium in China, you can cut off the South America round trip. If places near you make batteries, you can cut out both trips. If you recycle near you and ship to China, you can ship a lot more lithium since you're not shipping the other stuff, meaning a more efficient ship. That means several things. You pay less for batteries because the shipping is cheaper, and there is less shipping and thus less emitions from those. More externalities reduced.

              This is real economics. The invisible hand is fine and all but Smith didn't say that you can do anything you like and it would fix everything. He was quite clear that it did not and that there would be inefficiencies that could not be resolved with market forces alone. He was right.

              1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

                Re: A lot of kit is "designed" to be thrown away

                1: If it doesn't work out then fine. Of course the cost of burial needs to be considered, but I'm sure that we make more holes than we fill in ( quarries ) in this country.

                2: might actually be a problem

                3: If the mineral is expensive enough then recycling is already economically viable so it doesn't need to be buried

                4: Again, this affects the price and changes whether it is or isn't economically viable to recycle.

                > This is real economics. The invisible hand is fine and all but Smith didn't say that you can do anything you like and it would fix everything. He was quite clear that it did not and that there would be inefficiencies that could not be resolved with market forces alone. He was right.

                You say that, but you ignore the point for 3 and 4. If the mineral is valuable enough then it will be recycled anyway.

                And you can deal with externalities such as 2 with laws ( eg: you can't bury spent uranium at the council tip ).

                The only blocker I see is still your point 2. And I'm sure there's a solution to that.

                1. doublelayer Silver badge

                  Re: A lot of kit is "designed" to be thrown away

                  You've still got it wrong. The points other than 2 are not about how much the mineral costs. It is about how much we pay for others to sell that to us. Point 1, for example, is the tax we pay to bury this stuff, even if it's not ours. It's not built into the price of the product. The manufacturer didn't pay it. The purchaser didn't even pay it. You and I pay it. Point 3 is an environmental point, just like point 2. We're mining rare earths somewhere, for example. That somewhere is China and it's not pretty. You can get rare earths from a few other places with better conditions, but most of them are coming from China and lead to terrible pollution there which can leak into oceans and become even worse. It doesn't change the price of that mineral. Your rebuttal was "If the mineral is expensive enough then recycling is already economically viable so it doesn't need to be buried", but the price they are paying is less only because they're pushing all those external costs on us. If we include those, the price difference would be very different, but we can't easily just make them pay more to mine it in China unless we change the laws in China. I don't live in China let alone control their ruling party so that's going to be a nonstarter. These things are important costs and you don't see them in the price of random things. You can make laws so the prices are more obvious if you need to, but that just delays the process of doing anything for a few years. It doesn't change the relevance of those additional factors.

              2. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: A lot of kit is "designed" to be thrown away

                Lithium is a poor example, both because it's essentially limitless (if the price doubles, seawater extraction is viable) and becauise fuck all is actually USED in batteries (it accounts for less than 2% of the production cost)

                The real villains in that score are the casings (steel/nickel), electrodes (aluminium/copper) and sprinkling of cobalt (nasty environmental toxin). The graphite and plastic which compose _most_ of the innards are essentially valueless for recycling

                Also: Recycling is a LAST resort. You can make far more savings with the "reduce" and "reuse" steps rather than emphasising the waste disposal methods

                1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                  Re: A lot of kit is "designed" to be thrown away

                  Lithium is a poor example, both because it's essentially limitless (if the price doubles, seawater extraction is viable) and becauise fuck all is actually USED in batteries (it accounts for less than 2% of the production cost)

                  I think lithium gets used because it's 'trendy', ie the trend (or policy) to migrate away from ICE cars to EVs. That leads to a scrap problem because an ICE car is a lot easier to recycle than an EV, where much of it's mass would be it's batteries. And there are currently environmental issues from lithium production, ie pollution and water use, particularly in S.America.

                  The real villains in that score are the casings (steel/nickel), electrodes (aluminium/copper) and sprinkling of cobalt (nasty environmental toxin). The graphite and plastic which compose _most_ of the innards are essentially valueless for recycling

                  Yup. Plus I guess their flammability and HF emissions. But advances in battery designs might mitigate some of the problems. So Tesla's 'battery day' presentation got people all excited, but basically amounted to the new batteries going from the equivalent of a AAA to an AA cell. Volume increases, energy density remained the same. But presumably also leads to reduction in casing materials and possibly weight reduction. And there are big environmental impacts from copper/nickel/cobalt mining, so my usual example of the DRC.

                  Also: Recycling is a LAST resort. You can make far more savings with the "reduce" and "reuse" steps rather than emphasising the waste disposal methods

                  Indeed, and also where a lot of the waste issue is socialised. I don't want to buy waste, or pay for waste disposal directly or indirectly. So I think the biggest impact is on the supply side to reduce waste. One example is HelloFresh has been advertising their meal kits on YT a lot recently. The ad copy waffles about using recycled/recyclable packaging, but there seems to be a lot more packaging per meal than their would be if people just bought the same ingredients at the shops.

                  Personally, I think we should classify waste into burns/doesn't burn. Then incinerate the burnable stuff for heat & power. But that goes against 'recycling' policy, even though there's a limited market for recycled paper & cardboard, and the cost of processing that. Sure, there are potential pollution problems with stuff like dioxins and furans, but much of that could be reduced by policy mandating packaging that would produce less.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Trollface

          Re: A lot of kit is "designed" to be thrown away

          Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells "This is why we should just bury our (economically) un-recyclable waste."

          Agreed. Next to your house?

          1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

            Re: A lot of kit is "designed" to be thrown away

            I was thinking more along the lines of disused quarries and the like.

      2. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: A lot of kit is "designed" to be thrown away

        "I wonder if it's possible to pick up all the e-waste, grind...."

        That is how it is done. Much of it is done by a single machine, it us just a giant shredder, sorts out basic parts e.g ferrous, plastics and non-ferrous. And then sent off for further processing.

  5. ThatOne Silver badge
    Devil

    Dreamer...

    > build products with long-term repairability in mind

    Sure, sure. That, and unicorn-drawn carriages. Two simple and easy to implement programs which would go a long way towards improving life.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Dreamer...

      Unicorn-driven carriages available from Q3 2021.

    2. SloppyJesse

      Re: Dreamer...

      > Sure, sure. That, and unicorn-drawn carriages.

      I don't think Jeeves would be too pleased if I gave his carriage driving responsibilities to a unicorn. And how would it operate the HiFi with its clumsy hooves?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One day, far in the future, people will be mining old landfill sites in the search for minerals of which the natural supplies have been exhausted.

    1. Mike 137 Silver badge

      "people will be mining old landfill sites"

      Unfortunately this isn't likely to be feasible. A mining engineer pointed out to me long ago that the concentration of any specific metal in a mine is vastly greater than in a mixed rubbish tip. He said "we're extracting concentrated materials and spreading them too thinly to be economically recoverable."

      Targeted recycling of sorted materials is viable though, and it's got to be the way forward, rather than just dumping everything in holes in the ground.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "people will be mining old landfill sites"

        Yes. But the economics of the situation will change when the natural supply is exhausted.

        1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

          Re: "people will be mining old landfill sites"

          And technology improves.

          And if we're talking about certain types of plastic, we can bury them together in dedicated dumps.

        2. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: "people will be mining old landfill sites"

          Natural supplies are rarely exhausted per se, they just get more expensive as they become more scarce. That's why we have never run out of oil; as the price goes up then smaller deposits that weren't economically viable become economically profitable for extraction.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "people will be mining old landfill sites"

          Yes, the economics will change. People will mine asteroids instead.

    2. CuChulainn

      people will be mining old landfill sites

      Not far from me there is a large expanse of what used to be open landfill. I can remember my dad driving past it when I was about six years old, with all the dust and wind-blow open-fills produce. It was capped many, many years ago (the gas vents are still visible dotted around in the undergrowth) and became a green area. Quite a pleasant green area, actually.

      Until recently, when a housing estate was built on part of it. When the work started, I remember thinking 'will the house owners know what they are sitting on?'.

      The main thing though was the noise of construction. Because they had to build all the houses on piles driven into the ground down to the bedrock for obvious reasons.

  7. Howard Sway

    force online retailers to collect old electronics from customers

    Wow, that company that sold me a micro SD card online for a few quid is gonna be well pissed off when it expires and they have to travel 200 miles to pick it up and dispose of it.

  8. Ol'Peculier

    EE

    When I upgraded my home broadband connection, just after lockdown one started, EE sent me a bag to put the old one in and drop off at a Post Office.

    Did consider filling it with some various bits of IT junk that's in a box somewhere, but decided against it...

    (and I know they have shops, but they'd just been closed down)

  9. Timto

    Laptops = WEEE

    Laptops themselves are the problem.

    Most people treat them as disposable items you throw away after a few years.

    When you do throw them away you are usually throwing away something that is 90% working, ie screen, cpu, motherboard etc. It's normally only the hard drive that's the problem, either hardware or sofware.

    You get less performance for your money, they are easy to nick, easy to break, they are very hard to repair, they are very hard to upgrade, apart from the RAM or HD. They also give you RSI if you don't buy external devices.

    Yet everyone wants a laptop and the government is even giving them out for free.

    1. Byham

      Re: Laptops = WEEE

      This is where 'right to repair' sounds good but doesn't work. My eldest worked initially in a Lap Top workshop repairing returned under guarantee laptops. So recently when one of the lap tops at home broke he thought nothing of opening the laptop up identifying what had broken and seeing if that was a worthwhile repair; that is quite a skilled process.

      I have tried to open laptops just to remove HDD for security and it can be difficult. Doing it so that it can be repaired to be workable afterward is often not easy at all. So the right to repair could result in less economic designs and also a concern that someone would exercise that right while a machine was still in guarantee. Perhaps giving it all the broken failed parts from another machine or three.

  10. Chris Evans

    Practical? Better for the environment?

    I'm not sure they really have thought this through, especially for the smaller online seller. Who would be responsible for supplying the return packaging (Environmental impact of sourcing and supplying that) and what is the environmental impact of getting it transported?

    At work we repair various old retro computers, customers often ask us to arrange collection which can be time consuming especially when the courier doesn't turn up when they should and can be awkward for the customer. They will have a lot less motivation to stay in to have it collected just for recycling.

    My local council now offers a good service: "We now collect unwanted and broken small electrical items. Put your small electrical items in a standard sized carrier bag, tie up and place next to your rubbish on your normal waste collection day.

    Local recycling is much better environmentally

    Of course the best recycling is reuse, so if it is still useable sell it, give it away (charity, freecycle...)

  11. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

    Government: take your old appliances back to the shops where you bought them

    Also Government: But don't drive or own a car. You can't do that. I'm sure you can fit your old washing machine on the bus.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So, on the bus the same way your new washing machine was delivered?

      Other countries had this figured out years ago, the retailer takes away the old one when the new one is delivered. What possible reason is there for the UK to get its knickers in a twist this time? Some kind of theoretical loophole or some extra charge of all of a tenner on the delivery costs to the end customer which means we had better not do anything at all? Are washing machines too heavy for the horse and cart down there in the Land That Time Forgot? FFS, get with the programme.

  12. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Good Idea

    But there are many loopholes:

    - Retailers refusing to take the goods pretending they were not bought by them if there is no proof of the contrary (known by experience)

    - In the end, products that should be recycled are smuggled to third world countries anyway to be burnt by children to extract the metal parts.

    So enact the law, but also close the loopholes.

  13. Peter X

    ISP supplied Routers

    ISPs should not be supplying own-brand routers that:

    1. Will not work with other ISPs

    2. Are not able to support re-imaging with an open-source OS.

    There must be a shit-ton of routers that get dumped every year and they likely work perfectly well. And their power-supply bricks. And cables! And even shipping costs. My first router was an old Netgear DG834G that I bought myself and I got SEVEN-YEARS use out of that - this should be the norm, not the exception.

    *I know ISPs (at least BT) do accept you posting old routers back to them, but most people won't bother, and it's still a waste of energy in that there's unnecessary shipping (both to/from ISP) and then either re-cycling or refurb'ing.

  14. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    FAIL

    Easy option

    Make it so the batteries can be replaced in your cheap iPad/iPhone/handheld garbage electronics.

    It would save people throwing out tons of phones/pads/laptops until the point where they are worn out.

    Sadly no one would buy the latest iShiney so that idea gets squashed by 'lobbying' IE paying MPs/congress criters money to stop it

  15. Alan Brown Silver badge

    WEEE laws exist

    and are widely flouted

    If you're in Surrey, expect to pay antyning up to £100 for the council to remove your old washing machine (as one for instance)

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