WEEE statistics for Ireland

EPA waste data release 7 July 2021. Latest reference year 2019 (Data subject to Eurostat validation)

Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) is one of the fastest growing waste streams worldwide, and one of the most hazardous if not managed properly. It includes everything from discarded household appliances (such as fridges) to electronic devices (such as computers and mobile phones). The WEEE Directive (2012/19/EC) aims to ensure that WEEE is collected and managed in an environmentally friendly way. In 2019, Ireland surpassed all EU targets for recycling and recovery of WEEE.

WEEE_WWG

 

Key trends

Figure 1 shows the trends in WEEE collected and recovered in Ireland over time. It is evident that the economic recession that occurred between 2008 and 2011 led to a decrease in the quantity of WEEE collected, as householders and business did not replace electrical and electronic equipment as frequently as before. The recovering economy since 2012 coincided with a large rise in WEEE collected, underscoring the link between economic wealth and consumption of electronic goods. 

  • The WEEE Directive (2012/19/EC) sets an overall WEEE collection target (which increased from 45% to 65% in 2019) and also sets individual targets for the reuse, recovery and recycling of six different categories of WEEE.
  • The data for 2019 shows that 62,600 tonnes of WEEE was collected in Ireland for treatment in 2019, almost identical to the quantity collected in 2018 (62,700 tonnes). In 2019, Ireland achieved a WEEE collection rate of 61% and therefore failed to meet the new 65% target. 
  • Some 57,897 tonnes of WEEE were recovered and 53,162 tonnes were prepared for reuse or recycling in 2019; increases of 4% and 2%, respectively, on the 2018 quantities.
  • The data show that Ireland surpassed the the WEEE Directive recovery and recycling/reuse targets for all six categories of WEEE in 2019.
  • Large Equipment’ accounted for 59% (by weight) of all WEEE collected in Ireland in 2019. This category includes cookers, washing machines etc.

Recycling discarded electrical items is not only good for the environment and human health, it also makes sense. Many of these devices contain precious metals and valuable components such as glass that can be reused and recycled into new products if the waste is effectively managed. Improving the collection, treatment and recycling of WEEE can increase resource efficiency and contribute to the circular economy.

The EPA’s most recent waste characterisation study carried out in 2017-2018 found that substantial amounts of WEEE were still present in the household bins, accounting for 0.9% of waste in the residual bin and 0.7% of waste in the recycling bin. These results indicate that there is further room for improvement in terms of ensuring this material is separately collected through the available channels, to allow the maximum value to be extracted from these valuable materials. 

 

Table 1: Ireland’s WEEE recycling and recovery rates in 2019, compared with EU targets.

CategoriesEU recovery target

Ireland’s recovery percentage 

EU preparation for reuse and recycling target

Ireland’s preparation for reuse and recycling percentage

Temperature exchange equipment 85% 97% 80% 86% 
 2 Screens, monitors, and equipment containing screens having a surface greater than 100 cm2 80% 94% 70% 84% 
 3 Lamps n.a. 88% 80% 82% 
 4 Large equipment (*) (any external dimension more than 50 cm) 85%

93%

80% 87% 
5 Small equipment (no external dimension more than 50 cm) 75% 84% 55% 74%
 6 Small IT and telecommunications equipment (no external dimension more than 50 cm) 75% 88% 55% 81% 

Open in Excel: Table 1 WEEE recovery rates 2018-2019

 

 

European reporting

As part of annual reporting under the WEEE Directive, the EPA submits WEEE waste statistics for Ireland to the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications for transmission to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. The data are required to be submitted by 30th June of the reference year +2 (i.e. 2019 data were collected and processed in 2020 and submitted to Eurostat by 30th June 2021). Following validation by Eurostat, official statistics for Ireland and all Member States are published on the Eurostat website as part of the following dataset: