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‘Post-Lockdown Buying Spree’ Leads to Record Electronics Recycling
As lockdown eases, people have been buying new electrical goods in record numbers, and this has seen Ireland’s biggest recycling scheme record its busiest month in 15 years.
WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Ireland recovered over 3,700 tonnes of electrical waste in July, more than 2,000 tonnes of which was items that were taken to retailer’s collection points after consumers rushed in their droves to buy new goods.
Demand for TVs has surged and so has demand for office equipment as people ended up working from home for longer. People are also starting to buy white goods now which they were unable to do during lockdown as delivery and installation was limited or unavailable.
More e-waste is taken back to retailers in Ireland than any other country in Europe largely because access to local authority recycling centres is quite limited and there is a mandatory take-back requirement for old and unwanted electronics.
The ‘We’ll Take It Back’ programme was set up by WEEE Ireland and other partners in industry to help support electrical goods retailers to take back electronic waste, batteries, and lighting equipment for free.
Some of the biggest retailers are involved like PowerCity, Expert, DID, Euronics, Currys, Harvey Norman and Soundstore.
So what counts as electronic waste?
Large household appliances: fridges, freezers, microwaves, dishwasher, and washing machines.
Small household appliances: irons, toasters, kettles, and vacuum cleaners.
IT equipment and phones: laptops, fax machines, printers, phones, and smartphones.
Entertainment equipment: mp3 players, stereos, TVs, DVD players, and games consoles.
Tools: like drills, electric saws, and lawnmowers.
Personal care items: like electric toothbrushes, hairdryers, electric shavers, and hair straighteners.
How do I know if my electronic item can be recycled?
- Has a plug
- Uses a charger
- Uses batteries
- Has the WEEE wheelie bin logo (a crossed out wheelie bin) on it
It usually means you can recycle it.
Why recycle electrical equipment?
170 million new electrical items are bought in the UK each year, but less than one third of these are recycled. Electronic waste contains hazardous materials like arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury so dumping them in landfill is catastrophic for the environment and for our health.
It’s also a pretty big waste of some valuable and very recyclable materials like glass, ceramics, precious metals, and versatile metals like steel.
What is the law that governs electronic waste?
The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive was introduced in 2007, and it sets out the rules that manufacturers and retailers of electrical goods have to abide by when it comes to recycling. The bottom line is that electrical waste must be reused or recovered wherever possible to avoid potentially hazardous or valuable waste ending up in landfill.
The good news for consumers is that the directive makes it easier to recycle electrical goods. No longer do you have to keep old, broken, and unwanted electrical items in the garage or loft for years on end!
Under the terms of the WEEE directive, all retailers must give customers a way to dispose of their old electrical items when they sell them an upgraded version of the same item. This is usually in the form of a collection service or a store take-back scheme.
What else can you do with your electrical waste?
- Recycling is great, but reducing the amount of waste you produce in the first place is always the better option. Always think, do I really need this or is it going to end up as another unwanted gadget that’s cluttering my home in 6 months’ time?
- You can take some types of electricals to local authority recycling centres (check your local council’s website for details).
- If it’s in good working order, you sell it online or donate it to a charity shop