Total of 21 million electronic goods recycled in the past three years

26 Aug 2008

The equivalent of over 21 million individual old or broken electrical items have been collected and recycled by the scheme since the WEEE Directive was introduced in Ireland in August 2005.

According to a report out today, more than 21 million large household appliances (fridges, washing machines and cookers etc), 12 million small household appliances (kettles, toasters, radios, hair dryers, keyboards and remote controls etc), 750,000 TVs and computer monitors and 6.2 million lamps (including fluorescent tubes and energy saving CFL bulbs) have been recycled.

WEEE Ireland says this means approximately 100,000 tonnes of electronic waste have been diverted from landfill since August 2005.

Over 70pc of all waste electronic equipment collected has been initially processed in Ireland, with the remainder going to dedicated WEEE treatment plants in the UK and Europe.

“The collection and recycling results of old electronic equipment over the past three years show that significant volumes of material have now safely been recycled and diverted from landfill,” said Leo Donovan, CEO of WEEE Ireland.

“Recycling levels of larger items such as fridges and cookers have been very good, however the take back of smaller items such as adapters, chargers, cables and headphones could be much better. People tend to hoard these items and forget about them.

“Therefore, we would encourage people to clear out their drawers, attics and sheds and bring all old equipment including batteries to their local recycling centre. Overall, Ireland is performing well above EU targets and we are delighted with the results to date, but recycling levels could be improved even further,” O’Donovan said.

The results place Ireland among the ‘Best in Class’ of European countries – 9kg of electronic waste per person was collected and recycled during 2007 in WEEE Ireland’s collection area – over double the annual 4kg target set for Ireland by the EU.

WEEE Ireland will also be announcing details of its new battery recycling scheme in the coming weeks. From 26 September 2008, any retail outlet that sells batteries will be obliged to accept the same type of waste batteries back from consumers.

WEEE Ireland’s new scheme will involve establishing over 10,000 waste battery drop-off points in retail outlets throughout the country. From this date, old car batteries can also be brought back to garages, motor factors or distributors and other stockists for free.

It is estimated that over 2,000 tonnes of portable batteries are sold in Ireland each year – the equivalent in weight terms of 80 million AA batteries – with most being discarded in rubbish bins or hoarded instead of being recycled, due to their small size.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years