BRC CSR community is hosting a roundtable with retailers to discuss how the uptake of small ICT devices & connected devices could be improved. 

Electronic devices and electrical equipment underpin our modern life. However, e-waste is the fastest-growing waste stream in the world. In Europe, less than 40% is recycled and the UK is one of the largest producers of household e-waste in the world. Rapid sales growth and technological advancements are generating an unprecedented environmental challenge, with an increasing pressure on retailers to ensure that they effectively contribute to e-waste's sustainable end-of-life management. 

The scope of the Roundtable is to dive into the specifics of small ICT WEEE, such small household appliances like mobile phones, laptops but also smart and connected devices that often contain private personal data.  

As part of the producer responsibility scheme, retailers and distributors who sell small and very small WEEE have clearly defined obligations. Retailers must provide for free a way for customers to dispose of their old household electrical and electronic equipment when a new item is being sold, whether the sale is direct or by internet, mail order or telephone and regardless of the brand. ‘Very small WEEE’ are items of waste electrical and electronic equipment that are less than 25cm on their longest side. 

DEFRA confirmed the reform of the WEEE EPR regime and is expected to shortly publish its proposals. It is understood that as part of this reform they are investigating ways to increase customer participation in WEEE takeback. Their current thinking is that many consumers are reluctant to hand back devices which hold personal information eg mobile phones (small ICT WEEE) due to concerns of Data misuse. DEFRA’s understanding is that major UK retailers, including BRC members, have a higher level of trust than other potential WEEE gathering points such as municipal waste centres. DEFRA is looking to use the ‘trust’ that customers have in BRC members to leverage increases in ICT WEEE take back. 

The Roundtable is an opportunity for members with current and potentially future responsibilities on WEEE takeback to collectively reflect on what ‘good may look like ‘ from a retail perspective. 

To complement the discussion, members will hear about the latest research produced by the Royal Society of Chemistry and perspectives from Valpak on the current state of play.  


Points for discussion  

  • What are the current challenges for retailers specifically for taking back small ICT WEEE? 
  • Retailers role and responsibility in improving capture and collection of this devices – what is the way forward 
  • Reuse: views on how reuse of preowned ICT items can be facilitated? Does the forthcoming Data protection legislation create regulatory bottlenecks that complicate reuse? 
  • Recycling: what is currently missing? 
  • How to address concerns around data misuse?  
  • How can retailers help to deliver the increased consumer confidence and ICT WEEE take back that DEFRA is looking for? And how can this be achieved by the industry as a collective – would a PAS through the BSi be a potential route? 
  • Who has the responsibility to clear out the biometric data and what are the communication requirements to customers around that 
  • Communication and education piece: what works and what does not? 

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