E-Waste in the EU: Facts and Figures

We are sharing a news article from the European Parliament, a forum for political debate and decision-making at EU level. This particular article was published on 23 December 2020 and is about electrical and electronic waste and the fact that it growing faster than any other waste stream. Check out the facts and figures in the infographics below.

Did you know that less than 40% of e-waste is recycled. Electronic devices and electrical equipment define our modern life. From washing machines and vacuum cleaners to smartphones and computers, it is hard to imagine life without them. But the waste they generate has become an obstacle in the EU efforts to reduce its overall ecological footprint. This includes Ireland.

What is e-waste?

Electronic and electrical waste, or e-waste, covers a variety of different products that are thrown away after use. From the largest items to the smallest including cables, phones and batteries. Large household appliances, such as washing machines and electric stoves, are the most collected, making up more than half of all collected e-waste.

This is followed by IT and telecommunications equipment (laptops, printers), consumer equipment and photovoltaic panels (video cameras, fluorescent lamps) and small household appliances (vacuum cleaners, toasters, kettles etc.).

All other categories, such as electrical tools and medical devices, together make up just 7.2% of the collected e-waste.

E-waste recycling rate in the EU

Less than 40% of all e-waste in the EU is recycled, the rest is unsorted. Recycling practices vary among EU countries. In 2017, Croatia recycled 81% of all electronic and electrical waste, while in Malta, the figure was 21%. Ireland recycles 47.7% of all electronic and electrical waste but this figure could be a ;ot higher if we all did more.

Why do we need to recycle electronic and electrical waste?

Discarded electronic and electrical equipment contains potentially harmful materials that pollute the environment and increase the risks for people involved in recycling e-waste. To counter this problem, the EU has passed legislation to prevent the use of certain chemicals, like lead.

Many rare minerals that are needed in modern technology come from countries that do not respect human rights. To avoid inadvertently supporting armed conflict and human rights abuses, MEPs have adopted rules requiring European importers of rare earth minerals to carry out background checks on their suppliers.

What is the EU doing do reduce e-waste?

In March 2020, the European Commission presented a new circular economy action plan that has as one of its priorities the reduction of electronic and electrical waste. The proposal specifically outlines immediate goals like creating the “right to repair” and improving reusability in general, the introduction of a common charger and establishing a rewards system to encourage recycling electronics.

To learn more and read the post from the European Parliament please click here.

If you need to recycle electrical or electronic equipment safely Recycle IT are happy to help. Just send us an email or call 01 4578321 for more details.

Recycle IT is a not for profit, social enterprise based in Clondalkin, Co Dublin, Ireland.

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