Bishop of St Albans highlights sustainable alternatives to throwaway approach to smartphones

On 23rd February 2016 Baroness Jones of Whitchurch asked Her Majesty’s Government “what progress has been made in reducing levels of unwanted electronic goods ending up in landfill through encouraging manufacturers to produce more sustainable products.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow up question.

Bishop of St AlbansThe Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, nothing exemplifies our society’s throwaway attitude more than modern smartphones, which are almost impossible to get repaired at a reasonable cost, with batteries that are fixed in them and processors which are designed not to work after a couple of years. In contrast, there are now some social enterprises such as Fairphone, a Dutch company, that are producing phones using ethically sourced materials and in which every part can be replaced or upgraded when necessary. Does the Minister agree that such an initiative needs to be held up to the technology industry as a good example of the way forward to find sustainable products?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, I endorse all that the right reverend Prelate has said. The whole thrust of what we want is to achieve better design for waste prevention, reuse and recycling, of which Fairphone is a good example. If the Dutch can do it, so must we. More widely, the Waste Prevention Programme for England includes action on food waste, packaging, sustainable clothing and plastics, as well as electrical and electronic equipment. But there is so much more that we must do.