International E-waste day powered by WEEE Forum
The 14th October marks International e-waste day, a day to raise awareness about the importance of recycling your waste electrical items responsibly. The event, organised by the WEEE Forum, an international association of non-profit and sector-mandated e-waste collection schemes, brings together e-waste stakeholders across the world to promote the correct treatment of waste electrical and electronic equipment to enable reuse and recycling.
E-waste is the fastest growing domestic waste stream in the world, we need to improve the way its collected and treated to prevent it becoming a major environmental issue.
- In Europe, each household contains, on average, 72 electronic and electrical devices, 11 of which are broken or no longer in use.
- An estimated 53.6 million tonnes of e-waste was generated across the planet in 2019, more than ever before, and this is projected to reach an incredible 75 million tonnes by 2030, which is 9 kg for every person in the world.
- E-waste is part of the urban mine and contains up to 69 elements from the periodic table. If recycled, these materials can be used to make new electronic equipment.
- In 2019 the recycling of iron, aluminium and copper from e-waste contributed to a net saving of 15 million tonnes of CO2.
Recycling household waste electricals in the UK
A report published this year by Material Focus, an organisation financed through the UK’s WEEE system examined the recycling, hoarding and disposal habits of UK consumers.
The study, entitled Hidden Treasures, revealed that households across the UK are throwing away 155,000 tonnes of small electricals every year, by putting them in the residual waste bin destined for landfill. This equates to a total of 527 million disused electrical products, or 20 per household.
The UK’s WEEE regulations have undoubtedly helped to increase levels of e-waste recycling. These regulations place the responsibility for financing WEEE recycling on producers of new electricals.
It is reassuring to note that three planned changes should help to increase the household luminaire recycling rate.
- A national three-year consumer awareness campaign, coordinated by Material Focus, and financed by WEEE schemes (such as Recolight) is now being rolled out (although this has, naturally, been affected by the Covid-19 crisis).
- Finance is being made available to local authorities, again from Material Focus funds, to support the implementation of kerbside collection of small WEEE.
- From January 2021, most retailers selling electrical goods will be required to offer free-of-charge take-back of old electricals to customers buying new electricals performing the same function.