Families in Wicklow are being challenged to find and recycle five end-of-life electrical items in a bid to improve our recycling performance, after consumption soared in the last year.
The country’s largest e-waste recycling scheme, WEEE Ireland, is urging Wicklow residents to become e-detectives for the month of October and follow electrical leads around their homes to identify devices that are beyond repair.
Smartphones are set to be high on the hitlist – EU data shows they are the most unused and hoarded electrical items lying around Irish homes.
The ‘Follow Your Lead’ campaign aims to increase the supply of waste electrical recycling to local authority sites and retailer collection points to meet Ireland’s rising recycling targets.
A surge in lockdown spring cleaning saw 1,255 tonnes of electrical waste collected in Wicklow by the country’s largest recycling scheme in 2020, despite Covid-19 and travel restrictions.
8.8kg of e-waste was recycled per person in county Wicklow last year – falling short of both the 2019 collection rate of 8.9kg, and the 2020 national average – 10.9kg per person.
To encourage recycling in the county, WEEE Ireland are urging families to utilise the free recycling facilities available in Arklow Recycling Centre, Avoca Recycling Centre, Bray Recycling Centre, Rampere Recycling Centre in Baltinglass, and The Murrough Recycling Centre, Wicklow Town.
Irish homes contain an average of 15 to 20 electrical items which are broken or unused, according to WEEE Ireland.
And new EU data indicates that each person is responsible for an average of 5kg of hoarded electrical waste – meaning 15-20kg of old and broken appliances are waiting to be recycled from most households.
“When you add it up, 5kg equates to a kettle, a laptop that won’t power up, a smartphone beyond repair, an unplayable small gaming device and that kitchen blender in the back of the cupboard that hasn’t worked for years,” said WEEE Ireland CEO, Leo Donovan.
“To mark international e-waste day in October, we are challenging families to find at least five items and free up these valuable resources for use again in manufacturing, saving on the environmental impacts of raw material extraction.
“Being more resource efficient with e-waste though recycling is a simple yet sustainable way to support a more circular economy in Ireland.
“We are asking people in Wicklow to follow the leads and plugs to these defunct devices sitting in cupboards, attics, sheds, under beds and stairs, because the components and resources contained within this equipment could be put to better use.
“By turning this into a family challenge, everyone can have some fun while taking positive environmental action.”
As a nation, we are consuming more electrical goods than ever before.
Almost 60 million household electrical appliances, tech devices and lighting equipment were placed on the Irish market in 2020, with annual consumption rising from 15kg a head in 2016 to 21kg a head last year.
“As we consume and buy more electrical appliances and devices, the recycling targets we must meet also increases to meet annual EU WEEE Directive targets, as it equates to the percentage of goods sold,” added Mr Donovan.
“For all of 2021, we need to collect 65% by weight of what goes on the market.
“If more people recycle their hoarded devices and appliances through the authorised WEEE systems we will be in a much better position to meet those targets and recover this distinct urban mine of materials rather than sending it to waste in landfill.”
WEEE and waste batteries contain a large variety of materials, ranging from base and precious metals to plastics, as well as critical raw materials (CRMs).
WEEE Ireland works with indigenous recycling facilities certified to high quality standards to recover secondary resources from e-waste taken back by the public through a network of free collection points across the country.
See weeeireland.ie for a map of free recycling drop-off points for WEEE beyond repair or reuse.