Electrical waste recycling target unlikely to be met due to lockdown

WEEE Ireland urges consumers to avoid an e-waste crisis by recycling household items

A new national record of 10.89kg of e-waste was recycled per head of population last year, making WEEE the second-best performing recycling scheme in Europe. Photograph: iStock

A new national record of 10.89kg of e-waste was recycled per head of population last year, making WEEE the second-best performing recycling scheme in Europe. Photograph: iStock

 

Difficulties in recycling electrical waste during the lockdown could derail the State’s attempt to comply with European Union targets, WEEE Ireland has warned.

A new national record of 10.89kg of e-waste was recycled per head of population last year, making the organisation the second-best performing recycling scheme in Europe.

But, with people unable to leave their homes except under certain conditions during the Covid-19 crisis, it is expected that many household items that might usually be recycled will end up as landfill instead.

Waste, Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Ireland chief executive Leo Donovan said, given this, the State could struggle to meet the 65 per cent benchmark recycling target in 2020.

“Households throughout the country have used the lockdown to carry out extended spring cleaning, and it is vital that these end of life electrical items do not end up in landfill, or worse illegally dumped, destroying the progress that we have made as a nation,” said Mr Donovan.

“Now that people are free to travel within their counties, we are urging consumers to avoid an e-waste crisis by recycling for free at their local authority recycling centres and participating retailers which have now reopened,” he added.

Overall, 38,594 tonnes of waste electrical items was collected in 2019. This marks a 6.2 per cent increase on the prior year.

The equivalent of 227,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions were avoided by diverting e-waste from landfill through the scheme – the equivalent of the annual carbon consumption of 4,543 hectares of trees.

In addition, 19 million pieces of e-waste were recovered including 3.2 million lamps and lightbulbs, 334,000 large household appliances, 194,000 TVs and monitors and 122,000 fridges.

The annual report shows “take back” of small household electrical appliances increased by 15 per cent.

WEEE Ireland is a not for profit organisation that manages the collection of household e-waste, lighting and solar PV equipment and batteries on behalf of over 1,100 producer members.