Lighting Industry

MPs quiz Amazon exec over lamps which breach waste regs

The Amazon icon on a smartphone
Amazon’s worldwide director of environmental affairs Robert ter Kuile has been challenged over the high level of non-compliant product sold through their site.

MEMBERS of Parliament have questioned a senior executive of the online marketplace Amazon over claims that many of the suppliers of lamps and other products on its site don’t comply with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations. 

At a hearing of the Environmental Audit Committee, Amazon’s worldwide director of environmental affairs Robert ter Kuile was challenged over the high level of non-compliant product sold through their site.

The committee is currently holding an enquiry into the operation of the UK’s WEEE system, and asked Amazon to submit a representative to answer their questions.  

During an online hearing, Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion and a longstanding member of the Environmental Audit Committee, challenged ter Kuile over the non-compliance of LED lamps.  

She asked; ‘How do you ensure that overseas sellers using your platform are part of a producer compliance scheme for e-waste?’ and quoted figures  from research undertaken by lighting industry WEEE compliance body Recolight that ‘out of the first 120 listings for  LED lightbulbs on amazon, 76 per cent were non-compliant freeriders who make no contribution to UK recycling costs.’

Responding to the question, ter Kuile advised that compliance was the responsibility of the sellers.  

He also noted that some of the sellers on the Amazon site would have paid WEEE fees via a third party or were registered for WEEE under a different company name.  

He also claimed that Amazon ‘takes very seriously’ any non-compliant products that are brought to its attention.

Commenting on the hearing, Recolight CEO Nigel Harvey told Lux: ‘It was particularly pleasing to hear Caroline Lucas challenging Amazon using the Recolight research.  

‘But the response from Amazon was very disappointing.  

‘Robert ter Kuile failed to admit that most products detected in the Recolight research were genuinely non-compliant, and that only a small minority had been compliant using the methods he indicated.  

‘His claim that Amazon takes non-compliance seriously will not convince the members of the Recolight scheme who regularly identify non-compliant product on their site.’