Tens of millions of broken or unused electrical appliances are cluttering up Irish homes when they could be easily recycled, with valuable raw materials extracted, the junior Minister with responsibility for the circular economy has said.
Launching an awareness campaign, Minister of State Ossian Smyth said more education was needed to highlight the importance of recycling unused electrical equipment to help reduce Ireland’s carbon footprint.
The vast majority of Irish households have at least 15 broken or unused electrical items lying around, meaning there has never been a better time to declutter while positively impacting the environment, Mr Smyth said.
Ireland performs well in recycling household items such as fridges and washing machines, but smaller electronic goods are frequently left languishing in homes or binned, research suggests.
The awareness campaign is a collaboration between the Government, waste management portal MyWaste.ie and the two national compliance schemes ERP Ireland and WEEE Ireland.
Electrical products “contain valuable raw materials” which could help Ireland transition to a circular economy if they were recycled, Mr Smyth said.
A survey of 1,000 households carried out by iReach found that unused electrical items are typically stored in garden sheds, drawers and attics.
“Ireland is embracing a more sustainable future, and we are encouraging people to declutter their household,” said ERP Ireland chief executive Martin Tobin.
All electrical items, including mobile phones, laptops, toasters and plugs, could be recycled but “regrettably, people are either hoarding their electrical appliances or disposing of them incorrectly in general waste which ends up in landfills,” he said. “This can negatively affect the environment, so we encourage everyone to declutter their old and broken electrical items and recycle them at their local electrical retailer or civic amenity site.”
[ New recycling deposit charges to be introduced from February 1st ]
E-waste is the fastest-growing waste stream globally, with recycling deemed crucial to produce enough secondary raw materials. Mr Tobin reminded consumers that it is free to recycle such items.
“For every 10 new small electrical products sold in Ireland last year, only four are eventually coming back through the Irish-approved e-waste recycling system when they reach end of life,” said WEEE Ireland chief executive Leo Donovan.
“By recycling electrical waste we ensure these items can be used again in the manufacturing process, saving on the environmental impacts and creating a more circular economy.”
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