Lord Zac Goldsmith has said the government is likely to introduce legislation preventing manufacturers of white goods from making products which are “simply thrown away as a default”, otherwise known as planned obsolescence.
Lord Goldsmith, who works as minister of state for Defra, made the remarks on Monday (18 January) in a House of Lords debate on the circular economy and elimination of waste.
The minister of state was asked by Baroness Boycott how the government plans to tackle waste electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE), particularly products which can only be repaired by the manufacturer.
Lord Goldsmith responded by saying the Environment Bill “includes powers” to introduce legislation on products and will support durable, repairable and recyclable products.
He added that the government will also introduce a “suite” of legislation that will reduce waste and remove built-in obsolescence.
“It means removing waste as a default for manufacturers and shifting the emphasis as much as possible towards the producer and away from the consumer so that products are designed in such a way as to avoid a legacy of unnecessary waste,” he said.
“It is possible, even likely, that manufacturers will be required to manufacture products that are not simply thrown away as a default”
He added that subject to consultation, it is possible that manufacturers will be required to manufacture products that are “not simply shown away by default”.
Later in the debate, the subject of food waste was raised by the Earl of Caithness, Malcolm Sinclair.
He asked what steps the government is taking beyond awareness campaigns to help households reduce food waste.
Lord Goldsmith said in response that the UK is fully signed up to meeting the UN sustainable development goal seeking to halve global food waste at consumer and retail level by 2030, and has also committed to other initiatives.
He said: “Our resource and waste strategy committed us to better redistributing food to those in need before it gets thrown away, and we have put £15 million into that. We are consulting on mandatory food waste prevention targets for businesses and publishing a food surplus and waste hierarchy to support businesses to prevent food waste. Around 3 million tonnes of waste has been prevented since 2013 and, of that, around 2.7 million tonnes is food waste”.