Thursday 18 December 2014

Rogue collectors of electrical goods threaten recycle target

Michael Staines

Published 12/08/2014 | 02:30

Ireland could be in trouble when it comes to electrical recycling
Ireland could be in trouble when it comes to electrical recycling

UNAUTHORISED "rogue" collections of electrical waste could leave Ireland dealing with an environmental headache down the line.

European regulations require that a certain amount of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) be recycled by each member state every year.

Countries will have to recycle 65pc of the combined weight of all electronic items purchased there by 2019.

Around 35,000 tonnes of equipment were recycled in Ireland last year, the equivalent of 45pc of electronics bought.

Should a country fail to reach the targets, they will be subject to financial penalties from the European Commission.

E-waste recycling group 'Weee Ireland' is warning that unless we can stamp out "non-authorised collections and improper recycling" we may be in danger of doing so.

Leo Donovan, the group's CEO, said that it is vital that people ensure they are using an "authorised route" to recycle their equipment.

"Despite the recycling of unwanted electrical and battery waste being free and easy to do, not all of this waste is making its way back into an authorised system," he said.

The group are calling for all households to bring their electrical waste to an electrical retailer, local authority recycling centre, authorised collection point or special collection event.

He said that rogue collectors are not properly recycling electrical waste which "is a serious issue for the environment".

"During the recycling process we capture the hazardous components of electrical appliances to make sure they are treated properly," he said.

"For example fridge freezers traditionally contain ozone depleting CFC gases and they are extracted from the fridge during the recycling process."

He went on to say that people are hoarding old electronic items in their homes and urged the public "not to keep electrical waste and waste batteries lying around the house".

"When we had the digital switchover we received a huge volume of old televisions that only worked off the old signal.

"People tend to store electrical items in the garage, under the stairs, in attics, instead of simply bringing it to an authorised collection for free recycling," Mr Donovan said.

The current figures of 45pc puts us in line with current EU regulations but 20pc behind the target for 2019.

Mr Donovan said that so far we have been doing "extremely well" in Ireland when compared to some of our European colleagues adding that we have a couple of years to reach the new target and he is confident that we will do so.

"We have got off to great start, we would be in the top four or five countries in terms of our percentage take-back of electrical appliances already," he said. "Now we have that new target. If people recycle correctly, we should reach it."

Information on where to recycle electrical equipment can be found at weeeireland.ie

Irish Independent

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