Tech giants Apple and Amazon face backlash from MPs for ‘e-waste tsunami’ in the UK

The Environmental Audit Committee says the companies are contributing to 155,000 tonnes of waste electricals ending up in bins every year

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Tech giants Apple and Amazon are among the companies accused by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) of contributing to the ‘electronic waste tsunami’ in the UK and dodging their environmental responsibilities.

The body’s report suggests the firms are contributing to 155,000 tonnes of waste electricals ending up in bins every year.

The EAC argues that online retailers and marketplaces must have an obligation to collect e-waste from customers by the end of 2021, as the UK is lagging behind other nations regarding the use, reuse and recycle for small electronics.

MPs also urge the government to require all producers to label their electrical and electronic products with each item’s expected lifetime and ban the practice of intentionally shortening the lifespan of products.

The EAC calls also on the policymakers to reduce the VAT charged on the repair of electrical and electronic products.

It also calls on manufacturers to ensure their products are recyclable and can be dismantled by waste treatment operators.

Environmental Audit Committee Chairman, Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, said: “For too long companies like Amazon and Apple have been dodging their environmental responsibilities for the products they sell.

“Too many devices sold and made by these companies have a limited, and sometimes decreasing, lifespan and end up in bins, eventually going to landfill or incineration. There is no chance of precious metals being retrieved, which could quickly become a huge problem as the rare and disappearing materials are crucial for renewable energy such as wind turbines, solar panels and electric car batteries.

A spokesperson for Apple said: “We were surprised and disappointed with the Environmental Audit Committee’s report, which does not reflect any of Apple’s efforts to conserve resources and protect the planet we all share. There are more options for customers to Trade in, recycle and get safe, quality repairs than ever before, and our latest Apple Watch, iPad, and iPhone lineup all use recycled material across key components.”

The tech giant also promised to continue to work with Parliament and the Government to document its commitments: “We practice what we preach, driving private sector innovation forward in areas from device durability and recycled materials to ambitious goals for a fully carbon-neutral supply chain and device life cycle by 2030 and to one day end the use of mined and extracted materials altogether.”

An Amazon spokesperson said: “Amazon is committed to minimising waste and helping our customers to reuse, repair, and recycle their products, and we provide a range of options that anyone can easily access through the Amazon Second Chance website. We have supported the recycling of more than 10,000 tonnes of electronic waste in the UK over the last decade.”

To address the root cause of eWaste, Amazon said its own devices are designed to last so that customers don’t have to upgrade every year, and we provide a range options such as Trade-In, Pre-Owned Devices and recycling: “Our latest generation of devices are made with more recycled materials than ever before and we’re the first company to invest in renewable energy projects to address the energy used by our customers’ devices after purchase.

“We remain steadfast in meeting The Climate Pledge, our commitment to reach net zero carbon by 2040, and we will continue to work constructively with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and others on the role of online marketplaces and the circular economy, and the challenges of electronic waste.”

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