Tue, 20th Jun, 2023
Ireland and other European nations risk jeopardising green energy sources if we fail to hit EU targets to recycle critical raw materials, WEEE Ireland warned at the launch of its annual report at KMK Metals Recycling in Tullamore, Co. Offaly.
Electric vehicle batteries, wind turbines and solar power generators, all require components such as lithium, magnesium, copper and nickel – but Europe is importing the vast bulk of these.
Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Ireland’s annual report today shows consumers recycled a record number of e-waste items last year - 40,804 tonnes or just over 10kg per person.
A total of 19.5million appliances were recovered in 2022, including 113,000 fridges, 225,000 TVs and monitors, 2.2 million lighting items and the equivalent of 60 million used AA portable batteries.
However, we fell short of Europe’s 65% takeback target for overall e-waste, measured against new appliance sales which surged by an average 25kg per person last year, up from 22kg in 2021.
WEEE Ireland now warns that we also need to meet a forthcoming EU target to recycle at least 15% of our annual consumption of critical raw materials from this e-waste.
“Recent global events and the energy crisis have underscored the vulnerabilities of relying on other countries for critical raw materials,” said CEO, Leo Donovan.
“The EU currently imports 93% of its magnesium and 86% of its rare earth metals from China. We need secure and sustainable sources of these materials within the EU or we risk jeopardising the supply of vital technologies required for our future green and digital transitions.”
“As the world embraces a more sustainable future and shifts away from fossil fuels, the demand for lithium alone, a vital component in batteries that power every day technology and devices, is projected to increase twelve-fold by 2030.
“To address these challenges, the EU aims to ensure that by 2030, at least 15% of the critical raw materials consumed annually originate from European recycled sources under the forthcoming Critical Raw Materials Act.
“Old and broken electronics and appliances are a rich source of essential critical raw materials, so it is vital that Irish households recycle the millions of broken and perfectly recyclable electrical items that are accumulating in our homes or being improperly disposed of.”
WEEE Ireland recycles its materials in Ireland, and increased investment has led to e-waste processing to highest European standards.
“Our collaboration with KMK Metals Recycling in the midlands has been instrumental in processing e-waste to the highest European standards and ensuring its recycling into secondary critical and strategic materials,” said Mr. Donovan.
“Last year, we got more out of these recovered items than ever before.
“We have developed a national recycling and material recovery infrastructure that provides a local solution to a global challenge and contributes significantly to the circular economy.”
The annual report shows 52% of electrical waste was collected from retailer sites in 2022, 24% from local public collection days, but only 24% from local authority sites, which is significantly lower than the 60% average in other European countries.
But we surpassed the EU’s 45% target for waste portable batteries – collecting 1,202 tonnes, up 11% on 2021.
“I cannot stress enough how important it is to recycle your e-waste through authorised recycling centres to ensure the safe and efficient recovery and reuse of materials,” said Mr. Donovan.
“Recycling centres and retailers are easily accessible to everyone, along with public collection days that we hold in different counties each week.”
To find your nearest local recycling centre, public collection day, or electrical retailer go to weeeireland.ie.