A survey conducted by the British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom & Bathroom Installation (BiKBBI) this month has concluded that installers are unclear who is responsible for safely disposing environmentally harmful appliances, and struggle with costs of taking goods to approved recycling sites.
The survey of over 1000 kitchen, bedroom and bathroom installers has found that a clear majority are unable to meet the additional costs of taking used appliances to approved recycling sites, with over a third mistakenly believing that customers have a responsibility for safe disposal – despite the responsibility lying with retailers and producers, who have to offer a take-back service of old appliances. The BiKBBI said it believes efforts to reach the UK’s target of net zero carbon emission are being hampered by thousands of used household appliances like fridges and washing machines being disposed of in unsustainable ways.
The BiKBBI added that the survey, which was carried out among its members, suggests that a major awareness raising campaign is needed to ensure that installers fully understand who is responsible for the safe disposal of used appliances. It said that this would avoid appliances being left for collection by scrap traders, or dumped into skips with general waste, contributing to the 155,000 tonnes of electricals that are discarded in the UK every year, instead of being reused or recycled correctly.
The survey revealed:
● 34% of installers believe it is the responsibility of customers to safely dispose of old materials and appliances when installing a new kitchen, bedroom or bathroom – despite current Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive making it the responsibility of retailers and producers.
● 53% of installers believe it is appropriate to leave appliances at the site in the hope that local authorities will pick them up, alongside a small number who believe it appropriate to use a skip (15%) or leave appliances on the roadside for scrap metal collectors (10%).
● 72% of installers are aware of Government approved sites to dispose of old fridges but only 32% use them on all occasions, with 66% citing costs as the reason for not doing so.
Damian Walters, chief executive of BiKBBI, said: “Our industry has a huge part to play in the UK’s drive towards sustainability, but installers clearly need more support. As the results of our survey show, there is a real lack of clarity about whose responsibility it is to safely dispose of old appliances. It’s little wonder that so few installers are willing to take on the costs of getting appliances to Government approved recycling sites when they are not sure whether it is their responsibility.”
With changes to Waste Electrical and Electronic (WEEE) regulations widely expected over the coming months, the survey also revealed installers’ concerns that the realities of their businesses will not be taken into account by the Government, with 78% saying that the Government does not show understanding of their type of business when setting environmental rules and regulations.
Walters added: “Like all of us, installers want to do their bit for the environment but as very small businesses – often sole traders – they cannot afford to take on lots of additional regulation, responsibilities or costs. The Government needs to make sure that their needs are taken into account and that every effort is made to provide them with the right information if and when any changes are made.”