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Nationwide post-lockdown electrical goods buying spree sees record recycling levels

WEEE Ireland said it recovered 3,763 tonnes of electrical waste in July.

Leo Donovan, chief executive of WEEE Ireland
Leo Donovan, chief executive of WEEE Ireland
Image: Conor McCabe/PA Images

A NATIONWIDE POST-lockdown buying spree for electrical goods has seen the country’s largest recycling scheme record the biggest month in its 15-year history.

WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Ireland said it recovered 3,763 tonnes of electrical waste in July – the equivalent of 12,800 fridges or 1.7 million small appliances – marking a new national monthly e-waste record.

More than 2,000 tonnes of large and small items came back through free collection points at retailers, which saw an 18% increase on last year, following a rapid rise in sales of electrical goods.

WEEE Ireland chief executive Leo Donovan said retailers and manufacturers had reported a marked increase in sales of electrical goods in recent months.

“This has prompted a record rise in waste items being recycled at over 500 store locations throughout Ireland,” he said.

“There was also an increase in waste recovered from local authority recycling centres, due to household clear-outs, but the real driver in this record month has come through the We’ll Take It Back retail programme.

“Our retail partners have seen a sharp rise in sales of bigger-ticket items, such as white goods, many of which were not practical to buy during lockdown and need installation.

“There is also an upsurge in demand for TVs and screens of all types as consumers integrate their home and working lives with more office equipment.

“The take-back of e-waste through retailers is higher in Ireland than in any other country in Europe.

“As well as Ireland having a limited amount of local authority recycling centres compared to other European member states, there is a mandatory take-back requirement in place by retailers under Irish WEEE regulations.

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“With increased retail sales comes increased recycling of old and broken appliances under WEEE Ireland’s We’ll Take It Back programme.”

The programme was launched in 2014 by WEEE Ireland and industry stakeholders to support electrical retailers across Ireland in taking back e-waste, waste battery and lighting equipment for free.

Most Irish electrical retailers participate, with the main brands PowerCity, Expert, DID, Euronics, Currys, Harvey Norman and Soundstore accounting for 85% of total retailer e-waste taken back.

Since it began in July 2005, WEEE Ireland has diverted more than 418,200 tonnes of e-waste from landfill, 56% of which came through retailers.

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