Blog: WEEE wish you a sustainable Christmas

   Wed, 25th Nov, 2020

KMK Metals Recycling's Joanne Burke has written the November blog to encourage people to think about the environment in the run up to Christmas and to responsibly recycle old electronic toys that cannot be reused. 

On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me….an environmentally friendly, local Christmas tree!

On the second day of Christmas my true love sent to me…. two LED light sets and an environmentally friendly, local Christmas tree!

On the third day of Christmas my true love sent to me…. three wooden toys, two LED light sets and an environmentally friendly, local Christmas tree!

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love sent to me…. four beeswax wraps, three wooden toys, two LED light sets and an environmentally friendly, local Christmas tree!


Ok, you get the idea – there are plenty of ways to make sure you have a sustainable Christmas. The main area I am going to focus on for this blog post is electronic and electrical toys.

Many people still don’t know (or choose to ignore) that old and broken electronic toys – anything with a computer chip, computer screen, lights, noise, plugs, batteries or other electronic components - need to be recycled appropriately. The worst thing you can do is place these items in your household waste bin.

Electrical, electronic and battery waste (known as WEEE) is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the developed world – and also one of the most hazardous. Batteries and electronic goods contain heavy metals, such as mercury, cadmium and lead, that can pollute soil and water and are dangerous to human health.

All electronic equipment including toys is accepted with no recycling charge, at your local civic amenity/recycling centre or participating electrical retailers. It is all taken to us here in KMK Metals Recycling, where it is broken down, with many components going back into the production cycle.

Many parents decide to do a big clear-out of toys around this time of year in anticipation of all the new gifts coming down the chimney in a few weeks’ time. But what should you do with these items? Well, if the toys are in good working order, you could donate them to a charity shop, creche, montessori, parent and child group or go online to offer them for sale or free of charge.

If the electronic toys are broken, you can try to fix them and some toy makers do offer replacement parts for sale. However, if you have unwanted toys that have reached the end of the road then it is time to give them a new lease of life by recycling them responsibly.

If you were very good this year, maybe Santa will bring a new smartphone, laptop or tablet. Your current device is more than likely still working but lacking the latest technology. Before you recycle it (please don’t even consider leaving it to gather dust or chucking it in the bin) you should look into reuse. Many charities will accept old devices, or you could even try selling them second-hand.

Another thing to consider is your Christmas lights. Old lights, even if they still technically work, should not be left sitting in boxes in your attic or garage. They are rarely used again once replaced by upgraded alternatives. Every year, KMK Metals Recycling organises Christmas lights collection points in various shopping centres in the midlands to encourage people to recycle their old and faulty lights, with any money raised going to charity.

Homes around Ireland are full of old and broken waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) cluttering up garages, attics and playrooms. Even if you can’t bring yourself to reduce, now is the time to reuse and recycle. Perhaps children can be involved in the process by explaining the concept of the circular economy and the value old or broken toys and equipment can have for others through e-waste recycling.

More tips on how to stay out of the red and have a green Christmas.

  1. Buy second-hand items such as bikes, electronic toys or dolls houses from local charity shops or online.
  2. Speak to friends to see if you can swap toys that your children have outgrown.
  3. Buy products with rechargeable batteries.
  4. Purchase recycled Christmas wrapping paper and Christmas cards or make your own.
  5. At the very least, make sure your wrapping paper can be recycled. Google ‘the scrunch test’.
  6. Ditch the Christmas crackers – keep the bad dad jokes but not the needless waste.
  7. Bin the cheap plastic, tinsel and glitter decorations and go for something durable and sustainable.
  8. Shop locally – support the businesses in your locality so that they will still be there next year. Also it helps the environment to keep driving to a minimum.
  9. Reuse gift bags. Do not, I repeat, do not ever write on a gift bag label.
  10. Make a proper food shopping list – Christmas is a time of excess, but it is also a time of excess food waste. Make a food plan and try to stick to it.
  11. Support local food producers – do some research and you might be pleasantly surprised at the availability of quality, locally grown food products in your area.
  12. Feed the birds. Homemade bird feeders are simple to make and so rewarding.