The UK government has no idea how many tonnes of electrical and electronic waste ends up in landfill because it doesn’t keep data on the final amounts that have been dumped.
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Ian Pearson admitted to the oversight yesterday.
He said that although 184,334.13 tonnes of waste were recorded during the first Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive compliance period ended 31 December 2007, no official figures were gathered on the final amount that went to landfill.
Pearson was responding to a parliamentary question tabled by Tory MP, Anne McIntosh, who asked him to estimate what kit by amount and weight of WEEE products had been either sent to landfill or recycled.
“Data on the final amounts going to landfill are not kept,” said Pearson.
The WEEE directive finally came into UK law in July 2007. Since then many small firms have complained about the feasibility of the new European regulations that warned businesses a fine would be imposed if they failed to junk kit responsibly.
More recently, charity groups have also waded into the argument about how the WEEE directive is being managed by UK.gov.
In September Computer Aid International called on the Environment Agency to tighten up the WEEE directive to prevent e-waste being illegally exported to and dumped in the developing world.
It said that countries such as Ghana, Nigeria and China were taking the brunt of dumped hazardous waste exported from the UK, where the charity claimed that “cowboy commercial traders” were “actively abusing re-use and recycling initiatives”.
Pearson told McIntosh, who is the shadow environment minister, that a review of the WEEE directive would kick off shortly.
“A full 12-week public consultation exercise will be undertaken to decide whether any changes to the existing regulations are necessary,” he said. “It is hoped that this consultation will begin before the end of the year so that any changes can be put into place for the start of the 2010 compliance period.” ®