Irish consumers are recycling 15% more than they did four years ago and are now top of the EU table when it comes to recycling, a major new report has found.
This significant increase is outlined in the annual report of WEEE Ireland, the largest compliance scheme in Ireland for the management of waste electrical and electronic equipment and batteries.
The report found that WEEE Ireland collected a total of 31,000 tonnes of electrical and electronic waste in 2015, or a total of just over 9kg per person.
Since 2012, the figure per head of population has increased by 15%, from 7.65kg to 9kg.
WEEE Ireland’s 900 members include multinational companies like Apple, Whirlpool, IBM, Philips, and indigenous Irish firms such as Dimpco, and Origo.
The report also provides an insight into what Irish consumers are recycling. It shows that in 2015, approximately 13 million household appliances were sent for recycling.
This included 90,000 fridges and freezers, 600,000 large household appliances, 9 million mixed waste electrical and electronic equipment and 250,000 televisions and monitors were sent for recycling last year.
WEEE Ireland’s report also shows that an equivalent to 28 million AA batteries and 3 million lamps were collected for recycling during 2015.
The report also notes that retailers are playing an increasingly important role in Ireland’s recycling efforts.
Last year, Irish retailers collected 15,706 tonnes of waste electrical and electronic equipment, accounting for over half the amount of this waste collected.
This increase – from 12,370 tonnes in 2014 – means that WEEE Ireland has the highest percentage of take-back from retailers than any other country in the EU.
Commenting on the report’s findings, WEEE Ireland CEO Leo Donovan said: “These results are hugely encouraging and show that Irish consumers and retailers alike are well ahead of other European countries when it comes to recycling. Ireland can proudly say that more than any other EU country we have taken a lead in this area.”
WEEE Ireland also noted a number of recycling challenges. These included the fact that only 25% of small electrical and electronic waste items were being recycled. Also that toys, tools, small appliances, energy saving light bulbs were being either hoarded or sent to the landfill and that small batteries were being put into the black bin instead of being recycled.
Mr Donovan added that waste recycling in Ireland faces an external challenge in the years ahead. This challenge centres on an EU Directive which sets out that national collection rates of 45% of waste electrical and electronic equipment by 2016 and a 65% national rate by the end of 2018.
However, Mr Donovan expressed confidence that the figures contained in the WEEE Ireland annual report showed that Ireland would reach these targets, in the process boosting the circular economy.
“The EU’s draft package on the circular economy means that electrical and electronic waste will increasingly be seen as a limited resource rather than waste. Already, hundreds of skilled employees are working on recovering these commodities on WEEE Ireland’s behalf. Our report shows that thanks to consumers and retailers that purchasing an appliance is now synonymous with recycling waste electronic and electrical equipment.”