International E-Waste Day 2022
October 14, 2022
Recycle it all, no matter how small!
On International #ewasteday today Friday 14th October, leading experts are calling on households, businesses and governments to support efforts to get more end of life or unused plug-in or battery-operated products to authorised facilities, where they can be either repaired or recycled.
Headphones and remote controls are among the most hoarded waste electrical and electronic items in Europe, new data shows today.
Old and broken clocks, irons, hard drives and routers also make up the mountain of e-waste lying in our cupboards, attics and garden sheds.
The statistics were released as part of today’s International e-Waste Day, which Ireland’s WEEE recycling leaders are backing by urging consumers here to root out unused, stashed electrical items.
The grim figures show that of 16 billion mobile phones worldwide, 5.3 billion will become waste in 2022 – and stacked flat on top of each other, would stretch to 50,000km.
This year alone, the world will produce 24.5 million tonnes of small e-waste – four times the weight of the Great Pyramid of Giza.
“Despite containing rare precious metals and other recyclable components, unfortunately a large volume of small appliances are hoarded in drawers, wardrobes, cupboards and garages or worse still, are discarded in rubbish bins bound for landfill or incineration,” said Leo Donovan, CEO of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Ireland.
“This is an incredible waste of resources, is bad for the planet and prevents us from either re-using these items or harvesting these important and scarce resources so they can be used again to manufacture new products.
“We would therefore urge the public to drop their e-waste to authorised collections points in their local electrical retailer or recycling centre.”
The number one reason for hoarding end-of-life phones and other e-waste products is “I might use it again,” cited by 46% of consumers, followed by ‘I plan on selling it or giving it away’ (15%) and ‘It has sentimental value’ (13%).
The data compiled by the WEEE Forum, which organises International E-waste Day, reveals that the top five hoarded electrical and electronic products in Europe are:
- small consumer electronics and accessories such as headphones, remote controls;
- household equipment such as clocks, irons;
- small IT equipment including external hard drives, routers, keyboards, mice;
- mobile and smartphones;
- equipment for food preparation – toasters, food processing, grills.
Of 8,775 European households surveyed in six countries, the average household contains 74 e-products such as phones, tablets, laptops, electric tools, hair dryers, toasters and other appliances. Thirteen of these, nine of which are in working order, are being hoarded.
Separate research by WEEE Ireland this year shows just six in ten who purchased an electrical item said they recycled their old one. However, consumers in Ireland still recycled a record 18.7 million waste electrical items last year – including 127,000 fridges, 205,000 TVs and monitors and over 2.3 million lightbulbs in a total takeback of 38,464 tonnes.
“We focussed this year on small e-waste items because it is very easy for them to accumulate unused and unnoticed in households, or to be tossed into the ordinary garbage bin,” said Pascal Leroy, Director General of the WEEE Forum.
“People tend not to realise that all these seemingly insignificant items have a lot of value, and together at a global level represent massive volumes.
“The producer responsibility organisations in the WEEE Forum that manage the collection of e-waste are constantly working to make the proper disposal of small e-waste simple and convenient for users and households.
“Providing collection boxes in supermarkets, pick up of small broken appliances upon delivery of new ones and offering PO Boxes to return small e-waste are just some of the initiatives introduced to encourage the return of these items.”
*The WEEE Forum is a Brussels-based for-impact, not-for-profit international association representing forty-six producer responsibility organisations on all continents, across the globe. Together with our members, we are at the forefront of turning the Extended Producer Responsibility principle into an effective electronic waste management policy approach through our combined knowledge of the technical, business and operational aspects of collection, logistics, de-pollution, processing, preparing for reuse and reporting of e-waste. It is the biggest organisation of its kind in the world. Our mission is to be the world’s foremost e-waste competence centre excelling in the implementation of the circularity principle. The PROs are based in Europe, the Americas, Africa, Oceania and Asia. In 2021, its member organisations reported collection and proper de-pollution, repair and recycling in excess of 3 million tonnes of WEEE. Since their founding, the PROs in the WEEE Forum have collected, de-polluted and recycled or sent for preparation for re-use more than 30 million tonnes of WEEE. In addition, our members operate over 114,000 WEEE collection points and two thirds of them are market leaders in their countries.
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.