Dive into the latest waste and resource news with Circular Online’s news in brief round up.
In this news in brief, we cover a wide range of stories focusing on this year’s International E-Waste Day.
10 pop up e-waste collection points open as part of REPIC campaign
On International E-Waste Day (IEWD), REPIC says it is “leading the charge”, with Recycle Your Electricals “lending its voice”, to encourage consumers to keep their unwanted and working small electrical devices in circulation for longer.
REPIC describes itself as the UK’s largest Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment recycling (WEEE) compliance scheme. It says the collaboration aims to deliver a consistent voice and branded message to consumers about responsibly recycling their end-of-life electricals.
The focus of its participation, REPIC says, is on highlighting the extent of hoarding of these electrical appliances, while encouraging homeowners to dispose of them via existing collection points or the new pop-up collection sites. Both organisations hope to use this campaign as a springboard to encourage the WEEE sector to deliver a collective impact annually.
The launch was timed to coincide with International E-Waste Day (Friday 14th October), which is led by the WEEE Forum to raise the public profile of e-waste recycling and encourage consumers to recycle their e-waste and the rearranged Recycle Week (17th – 23rd October).
The stark reality is that many small electricals end up hoarded away in our homes, out of sight and mind.
REPIC says it has worked with a managing agent to establish dedicated e-waste consumer pop up collections and employee bring your e-waste to work collections to help tackle the hoarding of end-of-life small electricals.
The collaborative call comes as the WEEE Forum’s International E-Waste Day survey reveals that the UK is the third worst offending country, behind the Netherlands and Italy respectively, for hoarding used, unused and broken small kitchen and household equipment, laptops and tablets.
According to UK research commissioned by REPIC for International E-Waste Day, UK households are holding on to more IT equipment than any other small appliances and gadgets.
The survey also revealed that a combined 39.3 million IT devices – which REPIC says equates to the equivalent of 1.4 unused IT products per household – have the potential to be passed on or recycled.
The precious materials recovered from these end-of-life appliances can be redesigned into new goods.
Chief Executive, REPIC, Louise Grantham, said: “As part of the UK’s transition towards a circular economy, it is important consumers understand the value in recycling end-of-life electricals for reuse, refurbishment and remanufacturing of the secondary raw materials into new products.
“In an ideal world, every unwanted hair care product, toaster, food blender and kettle would either be used again if it has not reached the end of its useful life, or given a new lease of life through an official recycling system. In the majority of cases, the precious materials recovered from these end-of-life appliances can be redesigned into new goods, while reducing the need to mine for virgin materials.
“The stark reality is that many small electricals end up hoarded away in our homes, out of sight and mind and their precious materials lost or worse still, discarded in the household’s bins and ending up in landfill.”
Headphones and remote controls among most hoarded WEEE in Europe, new data shows
The statistics were released as part of International E-waste Day, which Ireland’s WEEE recycling leaders are backing by urging consumers here to root out unused electrical items.
The data compiled by the WEEE Forum, which organises International E-waste Day, reveals that the top five hoarded electrical and electronic products in Europe are:
- Small consumer electronics and accessories such as headphones and remote controls;
- Household equipment such as clocks, irons;
- Small IT equipment including external hard drives, routers, keyboards and mice;
- Mobile and smartphones;
- Equipment for food preparation – toasters, food processing, grills.
The figures show that of the 16billion mobile phones worldwide, 5.3billion will become waste in 2022, which WEEE Ireland says that when stacked flat on top of each other they would stretch to 50,000km.
The number one reason for hoarding end-of-life phones and other e-waste products is “I might use it again,” cited by 46% of consumers, followed by “I plan on selling it or giving it away” (15%) and “It has sentimental value” (13%).
Of 8,775 European households surveyed in six countries, the average household contains 74 e-products such as phones, tablets, laptops, electric tools, hair dryers, toasters and other appliances.
People tend not to realise that all these seemingly insignificant items have a lot of value.
Separate research by WEEE Ireland this year shows just six in ten who purchased an electrical item said they recycled their old one.
Director General of the WEEE Forum, Pascal Leroy, said: “We focussed this year on small e-waste items because it is very easy for them to accumulate unused and unnoticed in households, or to be tossed into the ordinary garbage bin.
“People tend not to realise that all these seemingly insignificant items have a lot of value, and together at a global level represent massive volumes.
“The producer responsibility organisations in the WEEE Forum that manage the collection of e-waste are constantly working to make the proper disposal of small e-waste simple and convenient for users and households.
“Providing collection boxes in supermarkets, pick up of small broken appliances upon delivery of new ones and offering PO Boxes to return small e-waste are just some of the initiatives introduced to encourage the return of these items.”
Currys says UK households sitting on e-waste “goldmine” of valuable materials
Currys, the UK’s “largest” technology retailer, says UK households sit on a “goldmine of tech treasure” that could put vital components back into circulation.
The retailer says the country is currently stockpiling an estimated 527 million unwanted electrical items, which is the equivalent of 20 items per UK household.
Currys says that each year more than £850m of precious metals could be salvaged from old electricals, including enough gold to make more than 850,000 rings. The retailer says that today more precious metals such as gold, silver and palladium can be found in e-waste than in natural ores in the ground and 95m tonnes of these three metals alone could be salvaged from e-waste each year in the UK.
When it comes to taking a circular approach to the products it sells, Currys says it has always been ahead of the curve, offering a repair service to its customers for the past 40 years. Currys says that the UK &I operation checks and repairs 850,000 products a year and it operates Europe’s largest electronic repair centre.
We recognise the pressing need to improve our use of resources and create circular business models.
The retailer says it also recycles over 100,000 tonnes of used tech every year across its Group, which is the equivalent weight of over 50,000 London black cabs. In 2021/22, Currys says it collected 116,000 customer products through its trade-in operation, with over 2,400 tonnes of used tech diverted for reuse.
Group Sustainable Business & ESG Director at Currys, Moira Thomas, said: “At Currys, we recognise the pressing need to improve our use of resources and create circular business models, which is why we are a leader in extending the life of technology through our repair, recycling and reuse programmes.
“This is why Currys is making the recycling, repairing and rehoming of unwanted tech so much easier for those who want to do the right thing with unwanted devices and e-waste but don’t necessarily know where to start.
“There are millions of tonnes of tech treasure sitting idle in homes up and down the country, which is why we are encouraging people to hand it over, don’t hoard it. We want the nation to hand in their unwanted tech via our in-store take-back service and Cash for Trash campaign so that we can get vital materials back into the manufacturing cycle.
“We estimate that last year, Currys kept nearly 17 million kilograms of tech in circulation. We want to grow that number.”