EPA waste data release, 14th September 2022. Latest reference year 2020 (data subject to Eurostat validation)
This data release presents the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) statistics for Ireland for 2020. 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 WEEE collection target of 65%, achieving a collection rate of 60% in 2020, down from 61% in 2019.
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 EU WEEE Directive (2012/19/EC) aims to ensure that WEEE is collected and managed in an environmentally friendly way. It sets an overall WEEE collection target (which increased to 65% in 2019) and also sets individual targets for the reuse, recovery and recycling of six different categories of WEEE (detailed in Table 1):
1. Temperature exchange equipment (e.g. fridges, freezers)
2. Screens, monitors, and equipment containing screens having a surface greater
than 100 cm², (e.g. televisions, monitors)
3. Lamps (e.g. fluorescent tubes, compact fluorescent lamp)
4. Large equipment (any external dimension more than 50 cm) (e.g. washing
5. Small equipment (no external dimension more than 50 cm) (e.g. kettles, toasters)
6. Small IT and telecommunication equipment (no external dimension more than 50
cm) (e.g. desktop computers, printers).
The WEEE Directive is a Producer Responsibility Initiative (PRI) Directive, where the producers of EEE (manufacturers, importers, resellers) have responsibility for the environmentally sound management of products at their end of life. Most collection and treatment of WEEE in Ireland is organised and financed by the two approved producer compliance schemes, WEEE Ireland (www.weeeireland.ie ) and European Recycling Platform Ireland (www.erp-recycling.ie ). These schemes cover private household WEEE (referred to as Business-to-Consumer or B2C WEEE). Industry is directly responsible for management of non-private household WEEE in Ireland (referred to as Business-to- Business or B2B WEEE).
Recycling and recovery
Table 1. Ireland's WEEE tonnage collected and recycling and recovery rates in 2020, compared with EU targets.
|Categories||WEEE Collected Tonnes||EU recovery target||Ireland’s recovery percentage||EU preparation for reuse and recycling target||Ireland’s preperation for reuse and recycling percentage|
|1||Temperature exchange equipment||10,673||85%||96%||80%||86%|
|2||Screens, monitors, and equipment containing screens having a surface greater than 100cm2||4,803||80%||98%||70%||85%|
|4||Large equipment (any external dimension more than 50cm||36,232||85%||90%||80%||86%|
|5||Small equipment (no external dimension more than 50 cm)||10,799||75%||89%||55%||78%|
|6||Small IT and telecommunication equipment (no external dimension more than 50 cm)||2,028||75%||88%||55%||86%|
|Total WEEE Collected (Tonnes)||64,856||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable|
Open in Excel: Table 1 WEEE tonnage collected and recycling and recovery rates for 2020 (XLS 10KB)Open in CSV : Table 1 WEEE tonnage collected and recycling and recovery rates for 2020 (CSV 1KB)
Recycling discarded electrical items is not only good for the environment and human health, it also makes economic sense. Many devices contain precious metals and valuable components such as glass and plastic. Improving the collection and, treatment of WEEE can increase resource efficiency, through reuse and recycling, and support transition to the circular economy.
Despite the improvements in the collection of WEEE in Ireland, there is evidence from the EPA’s waste characterisation analysis that substantial amounts are still present in household bins. These accounted for 0.9% of waste in the residual bin and 0.7% of waste in the recycling bin in 2017-2018. These items should never go in household bins as they are hazardous. It’s free to bring electrical items and waste batteries to recycling centres and participating electrical retailers. Raising awareness and ensuring that WEEE is separately collected through available channels will help to further improve Ireland’s collection rate and allow for the maximum extraction of valuable and scarce materials in the WEEE.
Achieving the new EU WEEE collection target of 65% will require continued stakeholder engagement and targeted efforts to improve the collection of both household and professional (business-to-business or B2B) WEEE. An EPA-led multi-stakeholder WEEE Collection Working Group is driving this effort.
Ultimately, transitioning to a circular economy requires breaking the link between economic activity and resource consumption. Improvements in product design to allow for repair, refurbishment and reuse are needed to ensure that electrical products remain in circulation for longer and can be fully recycled at the end of their life.
The EPA uses data from a number of sources to compile the WEEE collection and treatment statistics for Ireland. The three main data sources are: (1) data from authorised Irish waste treatment facilities, reported by facilities to the EPA and the National Waste Collection Permit Office; (2) datasets compiled by the ‘WEEE from private households’ (B2C) producer compliance schemes; and (3) Waste Management Reports submitted by ‘WEEE from other than private households’ (B2B) producers to the EPA. Data gaps are identified and filled by cross-checking the data with waste collection records held by the National Waste Collection Permit Office and with waste export/import data held by National TransFrontier Shipment Office. The WEEE collection target is calculated using data on EEE placed on the Irish market supplied by the Producer Register Limited, Ireland’s national register of EEE.
As part of annual reporting under the EU WEEE Directive, the EPA compiles statistics on WEEE collection and treatment in Ireland. The data are required to be submitted to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, by 30th June of the reference year +2 (i.e. 2020 data were collected and processed in 2021 and reported in 2022). Following validation of the data by Eurostat, official statistics for all Member States are published on the Eurostat website as part of the following dataset: