This Department does not collect information specifically on the recycling or reuse of mobile phones, printer cartridges or music players. The mobile phone industry estimates that around 18 million handsets are replaced every year and that in 2003 and 2004, about 5 million handsets were collected by mobile phone recycling and refurbishment companies in the UK. The industry estimates that about 60 per cent. of these were refurbished and the remaining 40 per cent. were sent for materials recycling.
Accurate information regarding materials collected for recycling and exported overseas is not available. All exported waste must be of a certain quality and be for recycling or reuse. It is for producers, local authorities and their waste management contractors to ensure that their waste is properly managed through all the steps in the recycling chain, including its final destination.
The Environment Agency detects and prevents the illegal export of waste at major UK ports through intelligence-led, targeted inspections. Enforcement action is taken where evidence of illegal activity is found.
No research has been conducted by or for DEFRA specifically on the recycling and reuse of mobile phones and printer cartridges. We are, however, aware of a number of businesses and charitable organisations that currently collect mobile phones and printer cartridges for reuse and recycling.
The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations, which transpose the EU WEEE Directive, will make producers financially responsible for the treatment and recycling of electronic equipment, including mobile phones, when it becomes waste from 1 July. DEFRA is responsible for the regulations transposing the treatment and permitting requirements of the directive, which are intended to improve the environmental performance of operators directly involved in the treatment of WEEE.
DEFRA has also worked closely with the Department of Trade and Industry on the development of the Restriction of the use of certain Hazardous Substances in electrical and electronic equipment (RoHS) Directive from 1 July 2006, and has restricted the use of six hazardous substances in the manufacture of mobile phones and other electrical and electronic equipment, meaning that they will be easier to treat and recycle when they become waste.
No specific assessment has been made. However, the environmental impact of exporting waste paper to China for recovery is likely to be minimal since it is often transported on otherwise empty container ships which are returning to China after delivering manufactured goods to the UK.