The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just published its annual WEEE Statistics Report. In 2020, a record 64,856 tonnes of WEEE was collected in Ireland for treatment, the highest quantity ever recorded in the State. Ireland surpassed all EU targets for recycling and recovery of WEEE in 2020. However, for the second year Ireland fell short of meeting the new high WEEE collection target of 65%, achieving a collection rate of 60% in 2020, down from 61% in 2019.
The trends identified by the EPA report are very positive in terms of the work carried out by KMK Metals Recycling in partnership with Ireland’s largest compliance scheme, WEEE Ireland.
Ireland collected a record 64,856 tonnes of WEEE for treatment, a 4% increase on the quantity collected in 2019 (62,600 tonnes) and the highest quantity ever collected in the State.
Ireland achieved a WEEE collection rate of 60% in 2020 (compared with 61% in 2019). Therefore, despite the increased tonnage of WEEE collected in 2020, Ireland continues to fall short of meeting the new EU collection target of 65% that came into effect from 2019, as efforts to increase collection were outpaced by the growth in EEE placed on the market.
If you break down WEEE collected in Ireland in 2020, Large Equipment accounted for 56% (by weight) and includes cookers, washing machines etc. ‘Small equipment’ (e.g. kettles, toasters) represented the next largest category accounting for 17% (by weight) of WEEE collected. ‘Temperature exchange equipment’ (e.g. fridges, freezers) accounted for 16% (by weight).
It is well established that trends in the consumption of electronic goods are closely linked to economic wealth. This is reflected in the WEEE data for Ireland for 2008-2020 shown in Figure 2. It is evident that the economic recession between 2008 and 2011 led to a decrease in the quantity of WEEE collected and recovered, as Irish householders and businesses did not replace electrical and electronic equipment as frequently as before. The growth in the Irish economy since 2012 has led to large rises in WEEE collected and recovered, which reached record highs in 2020.
The rise in WEEE collected in 2020 mirror significant reported increases in retail sales of electrical goods in 2020. The trend is likely attributable to changes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic such as the widespread shift to remote working and a surge in household clear-outs. Based on data provided by the Producer Register Limited, Ireland’s national register of EEE, across all categories there was an increase of 11% in overall EEE placed on the market in Ireland in 2020 compared with 2019, while there were considerably larger increases in quantities of ‘small IT and telecommunications equipment’ and ‘screens and monitors’ which rose by 32% and 31% respectively
Recycling and recovery
Some 59,404 tonnes of WEEE were recovered and 55,012 tonnes were prepared for reuse or recycling in 2020, both up 3% on the 2019 quantities (Figure 2).
Ireland surpassed the EU recovery and recycling/reuse targets for all six categories of WEEE in 2020 (Table 1). The majority of the targets were surpassed by a considerable margin (greater than five percentage points), with the exception of the preparation for reuse and recycling target for lamps, which was met by a narrow margin (two percentage points).
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