Only 40% Of Old Tech Is Being Recycled In Ireland
May 22, 2023
Concerns about personal data are preventing one in five (21%) adults recycling their unused tech items – while a further 22% keep them as back-ups, new research reveals.
WEEE figures from the past 3 years also reveals that, for every 10 new tech products sold in Ireland, only 4 are eventually coming back for recycling when they become obsolete.
It means Ireland’s take-back rate for technology products since 2020 now stands at 40% – well below the national e-waste target of 65%.
An average 6 million tech items – including mobiles, laptops, tablets, printers, cables and chargers – were sold in Ireland each year over the last 3 years.
CEO of WEEE Ireland, Leo Donovan, is now urging consumers to dig out old and broken tech and their accessories for recycling, emphasising the straight-forward nature of backing up and wiping old devices.
“There are millions of devices languishing in Irish homes that could be recycled and put to good use once people can overcome their reservations about wiping them after they are properly backed up,” said Mr Donovan.
“Most phone and laptop manufacturers have user-friendly instructions on their websites for backing up and deleting data, ensuring that valuable information is not lost or exposed.
The Empathy Research survey for Ireland’s largest not-for-profit compliance scheme also found that worryingly 12% of people still put small electronic waste items in general household bins.
“If recycled correctly, these old and broken devices, along with their integrated batteries, chargers and cables, provide a significant source of critical and strategic secondary raw materials,” said Mr Donovan.
“These are essential to both Ireland’s and the wider EU’s green and digital ambitions in various industry sectors, including renewable energy, transport, health and technology.
“Cobalt and lithium are crucial for batteries, while gallium is critical for semi-conductors, but these critical raw materials are in scarce supply.
“We urge the public to take advantage of the available free recycling facilities nationwide and contribute to the country’s sustainable growth while helping to protect our planet.”
Mr Donovan said it is vital that Ireland is supported in delivering the European Green Deal, which includes the new Circular Economy legislation framework and forthcoming Critical Raw Materials Act, and aims to ensure a sustainable supply of critical raw materials for the EU’s green and digital future.
As well as providing free recycling services for large and small household electrical and electronic waste, WEEE Ireland operates a scheme for the takeback and management of waste batteries.
New EU Battery Regulations due this summer will see a significant increase in battery collection targets to drive even better recycling and resource recovery.
The current national recycling target for batteries is 45%, which latest figures show is being achieved.