Lighting Industry

Govt report criticises online marketplaces

An abstract graphic depicting a marketplace
The Environmental Audit Committee says that online retailers and marketplaces must have an equal obligation to collect electronic waste such as light bulbs from customers.

A GOVERNMENT report into the UK’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) recycling system has criticised the lack of regulation of online marketplaces where electrical and lighting equipment is on sale.

The Environmental Audit Committee took evidence from a significant number of stakeholders from across the electronics and waste sectors.  The report – which has been welcomed by WEEE compliance body Recolight – notes that ‘online marketplaces host thousands of unregistered sellers, predominantly from overseas’.

The two recommendations for online marketplaces were:

‘As a matter of urgency, and at the latest by the end of 2021, online retailers and marketplaces must have an equal obligation to collect electronic waste from customers. 

‘To prevent take-back only being offered at remote, inconvenient warehouses, we believe that the exemplary innovation shown by some companies should become a minimum—meaning all large online retailers and marketplaces must arrange and pay for like-for-like electronic waste collection from a customer’s home on delivery of new electronics. They must also offer to collect any electronic waste defined as ‘small’ at the same time.

‘Online marketplaces must also be made responsible for ensuring that all electrical and electronic equipment sold on their platforms is fully safe and compliant with the law. 

‘Producers should be required to pay exactly the same producer responsibility fees and follow the same rules selling online and they do offline.’

‘The EAC recommendations for online marketplaces are spot on,’ Recolight CEO Nigel Harvey told Lux.

‘Online marketplaces must be required to play their part in the WEEE system.  They are retailers – so they should have the same duties to collect WEEE as “bricks and mortar” retailers.  

‘They support the sale of vast quantities of non-compliant product – so they must take responsibility for ensuring everything they sell meets legal obligations.  And there must be no watering down of WEEE requirements and fees for online marketplaces.’

He added ‘The proposal that online marketplaces be required to arrange and finance WEEE collections from consumers by the end of 2021 would be a game changer.  

‘At a stroke, we would see the implementation of a WEEE collection system that could significantly increase WEEE collection rates.  And by ensuring collections are undertaken by the vehicle delivering new products means there would be no increase in carbon footprint.  

‘What is more, it may be possible to make this mandatory without the need for further legislation, making the end of 2021 a realistic timetable.

‘We’re delighted that that the EAC has made tackling the compliance of products sold through online marketplaces a fundamental plank of its proposals.  For many Recolight producer members, suffering from the unfair competition, it cannot happen a moment too soon.’

  • Read the EAC report HERE.