WEEE Ireland Laura Lynn

WEEE Ireland celebrates 10 years

15th September 2015

As Ireland celebrates 10 years of Recycling over 50% of E-Waste still goes missing every year

WEEEling in the Years: From E-Waste dumping in the 1990’s to hitting EU Targets in the 2010’s

  • Ireland’s recycling circular economy has seen 250,000 tonnes of electrical waste diverted from landfill since 2005. Packed into 50,000 truckloads, nose to tail, the diverted electrical waste would stretch from Dublin to Paris (1,066km)

PRESS RELEASE: DUBLIN SEPTEMBER 15TH

Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government Alan Kelly TD visited Google EMEA headquarters in Dublin today to officially celebrate 10 years of e-w aste recycling in Ireland. Since the introduction of the WEEE Directive in Ireland in 2005, WEEE Ireland has hit all WEEE targets in terms of recovery and recycling of household electrical waste, however 50% of e-waste still goes unaccounted for each year in Ireland.

Ireland sits in the top 5 European countries for e-waste recycling and with a take back collection rate of 50% is well ahead of the European average, which is just 30%.

Speaking at the event, CEO of WEEE Ireland Leo Donovan said,” Today is the culmination of 10 years of hard work by the Irish people and WEEE Ireland. We are delighted to be in a position where after only 10 years of electrical recycling we currently sit amongst the top 5 European countries in this field. While Ireland currently has a take back rate of 50% of electrical waste placed on the market, we are still missing the remaining half. This is a large volume of electrical waste that goes unaccounted for in Ireland each year. Without a constant effort to improve and increase recovery in Ireland we could be in the position of our failing to hit the EU target of 65% in 2019.

RECYCLING IN IRELAND THROUGH THE DECADES:

In Ireland over 91% of municipal waste was disposed of in landfill sites in 1998 [1], but by 2004 the municipal waste recovery rate had grown to just a little over 33%. In the same year, 21,000 tonnes of household electrical waste (WEEE) was collected. Of this amount, over 11,000 tonnes was still sent to landfill rather than recycled and 9,000 tonnes were exported for treatment and other management. [2]

By 2006 following the implementation of the WEEE Scheme almost 50,000 tonnes of electrical waste was collected for recycling and at least two thirds was being managed in Ireland. [3]

Today in Ireland along with our 50% take rate of WEEE placed on the market and high tech local recycling facilities Ireland is also hitting recovery rates of 80% and 90% across different recycling processes managed by our home grown WEELABEX contractors. This has resulted in a huge diversion of electrical waste from landfill.

[1] Ref Irish EPA Report 1998
[2]Ref EPA National Waste Report 2004
[3] Ref EPA National Waste Report 2006

OVER THE DECADES IRELAND HAS SEEN MANY CHANGES WITH HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES:

  • WEEE Ireland is still recycling very high volumes of old CRT box televisions that were replaced around 2005 in Ireland by flat screen TVs and monitors. The Saorview Digital Switchover and ongoing TV upgrades has seen over 4,000 tonnes being recycled in the last year alone
  • Ireland was a nation without remote controls up to the 1980’s, which meant the constant panic for waste batteries was non-existent. Over 26 million AA batteries were recovered for recycling for WEEE Ireland last year
  • BULKY VHS PLAYERS gave way to CD’s, set top boxes and finally Smart TV’s and downloads – however these older style appliances were being used as a second hand system in many homes in Ireland and are still seen coming through WEEE Ireland’s recycling channels today.
  • Ireland’s level of BEAUTY GADGETS has changed dramatically over the past few decades. From the double use of an iron to straighten hair Ireland now recycles over 5 million small e-waste gadgets in one year
  • As a nation we have turned from tea to coffee drinkers over the last 10 years and other KITCHEN ELECTRICAL APPLIANCES have become must haves for every home with nutri-blenders and health grills being the latest additions to our kitchen appliances. Large household appliances are also getting upgraded more frequently with over 11,000 tonnes recycled in 2014.
  • CHILDREN’S TOYS have become increasing more electrified with lights, buzzers and movement all required now for the discerning toddler and the explosion of the GAMING INDUSTRY over the last two decades cannot be ignored. In 2014 alone 36 tonnes of small electrical toys were collected by WEEE Ireland for recycling – that’s nearly 7 large truckloads
  • Just like our homes, offices across Ireland are forever upgrading their IT systems with over 1,158 tonnes of IT e-waste collected in 2014 alone including over 600 tonnes of computer monitors
  • 75 million waste electrical items have been collected since 2005, that’s over 70 electrical items per household!
  • Most of us are now aware that we can recycle WEEE for free but 1 in 4 Irish people are still hoarding or putting electrical waste in the rubbish bin at home
  • Ireland is a WEEE recycling champion – all WEEE Ireland’s recycling contractors have recently received the European WEEE label of excellence standard– WEEELABEX for high quality electrical waste management processes for their facilities here in Ireland
  • WEEE Ireland on behalf of its industry members would like to thank all electrical stakeholders for their recycling efforts in the last 10 years

E-WASTE AND THE HAZARDS:

Over the past 20 years manufacturers have worked to phase out certain chemicals and materials under the guidance of EU Environmental Directives and replaced old designs with new energy efficient and light weighted technologies.

E-waste is a growing waste stream and for older appliances it can be a hazardous waste stream if it is not responsibly managed. Ireland is heading toward a more resource efficient future as we realise the value of our waste streams and the importance of waste prevention in conserving our natural resources, limiting our energy use and helping the battle against climate change. This future requires everyone to play their part and recycle.

IRELAND’S BAD HABITS WHEN IT COMES TO ELECTRICAL WASTE RECYCLING:

HOARDING: 1 in 4 Irish people are still throwing their electrical waste in the bin or hoarding it at home.

USE OF UNAUTHORISED COLLECTIONS: Irish people are still availing of unauthorised recycling through unpermitted door to door collectors and scrap metal channels – this has the potential to cause environmental and health problems as hazardous components are not removed or processed properly. This electrical waste is also not reported to regulatory authorities and therefore not added to Ireland’s overall electrical recycling rate leaving us at risk of fines from the EU for not reaching targets

ILLEGAL DUMPING: Despite electronic recycling being FREE through local authorities and schemes such as WEEE Ireland, Irish people are still dumping waste electrical appliances waste, which can cause environmental damage to our roadsides, rivers and fields.

WITH 10 YEARS OF GREAT WORK COMPLETED, WEEE IRELAND HAVE OUTLINED THE MAIN WAYS THAT WE CAN CONTINUE TO BE A EUROPEAN LEADER

  • PREVENT WASTE by having your appliances repaired by an authorised service provider
  • Ask friends and family could they REUSE appliances that are still in good working order when you are finished with them
  • Take back older and broken appliances for RECYCLING to electrical retailers when you purchase new electrical items
  • Put your waste batteries in the WEEE Ireland blue boxes to RECYCLE FOR GOOD and help The LauraLynn Children’s Hospice Charity
  • DON’T RUBBISH IT – recycle all household electrical waste for free at WEEE Ireland collection points. View collections for the nearest point to you
  • Recycling with WEEE Ireland SUPPORTS IRISH RECYCLING INDUSTRIES