Ireland recycled equivalent of 15m household appliances in 2016

WEEE Ireland exceeded EU recycling targets including 812 tonnes of AA batteries

Irish consumers recycled 34,482 tonnes of waste electrical and electronic equipment during 2016; the equivalent of approximately 15 million household appliances or almost 10kg per person. The figures, the highest ever achieved, are confirmed in the 2016 annual report from Waste, Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Ireland, published Thursday.

WEEE Ireland is a not-for-profit organisation, founded by producers of electrical and electronic appliances to help them comply with the legal obligations imposed by the EU directives.

The report shows that WEEE Ireland has exceeded EU targets, representing an increase of 12 per cent from 2015 when 30,909 tonnes were collected.

A revised target of 65 per cent “takeback” of all WEEE placed on the market by 2019 is in place. “This new target must be achieved to maintain Ireland’s exemplary status in WEEE recycling,” said WEEE Ireland chief executive Leo Donovan.


2016 was the “year of the battery”, he said – as an additional 812 tonnes of batteries were collected; the equivalent of 32 million AA batteries.

The report shows marked growth in takeback of waste electrical toys, which grew by 140 per cent and electrical tools, which grew by 122 per cent. Refrigeration appliances were another high performing category, with Irish consumers recycling 103,000 fridges/freezers with WEEE Ireland last year. Large household appliances remain a consistently high-performing category, representing 49 per cent of all WEEE collected last year.

Gold standard

WEEE Ireland co-ordinates collections of electronic waste via retailers, civic amenity sites and its collection events. It works on behalf of its member producers to help them meet and comply with obligations imposed by the WEEE Directive. Apple Distribution, Dell, Panasonic, Philips, Whirlpool, Glen Dimplex and IBM Ireland are among 912 members who collectively placed 56,000 tonnes of electrical and electronic equipment on the Irish market last year.

The collection of waste electrical and electronic equipment “has gone from strength to strength” Mr Donovan added. Ireland “now sets the gold standard in WEEE recycling for one of the best performing small country in Europe as acknowledged by the EU Commission”.

While increasing takeback figures were always a priority, this year WEEE Ireland put a particular focus on quality treatment standards, he said. All their “treatment partners” were now audited, which ensures recycling operators maximise recovery of resources from WEEE, and have strict requirements so that hazardous materials are extracted, managed and treated safely.

There was still work to be done, Mr Donovan said, particularly on raising awareness of small WEEE recycling. “The report shows that 11 per cent of people admit they put small WEEE in with their general waste, and 80 per cent of people admit to hoarding waste and obsolete IT gadgets at home.”

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times