Only one in three of the most popular electronic and electrical gifts sold in Ireland is recycled, new data shows.
Statistics reveal that since 2019, just 33% of end-of-life beauty and consumer electricals such as hair straighteners, shavers, instant print cameras, headphones and bluetooth speakers were diverted from landfill.
And that figure drops dramatically to just under 10% for electronic toys including gaming consoles, action figures, e-scooters and e-bikes.
“So many of these items can be repaired, re-used or re-gifted, but if they cannot, make sure you recycle them for free,” said Leo Donovan, CEO of WEEE Ireland, which carried out the research.
“Christmas is a time when many people may be replacing electrical and electronic household items.
“All of these, along with old toys being replaced by new ones, can be returned for free recycling at your local authority centre rather than dumping them in household rubbish bins.
“Anything with a plug, battery or circuit board contains valuable components which can be used again in manufacturing.”
As this year’s festive shopping frenzy accelerates, the WEEE figures show that more than 7 million electronic toys were sold in Ireland over the last three years – a third of them in November and December.
The low take back rates for these types of end-of-life toys correlates with a recent EPA Waste Categorization Study showing substantial amounts of small WEEE items – more than double the amount reported a decade ago - are still being incorrectly dumped in household rubbish bins.
“Some consumers may believe that old, unfixable toys and small electronic or electrical items are not as important in terms of recycling compared to larger items such as washing machines, microwaves and vacuum cleaners,” said Mr Donovan.
“But with the rise in consumption of items such as gaming consoles and entertainment devices, it is more important than ever that they are given the same priority.
“Hoarding them in homes is a waste of their potential as the materials used to manufacture them can be re-used.
“Consumers can play a huge role by supporting the circular economy and benefit from the feel-good factor of doing something which makes a real difference.
“Our message is simple - if you’re getting your house ready for Christmas and thinking of buying a new household appliance, replacing your Christmas lights or clearing out old toys for Santa, use free e-waste take-back to dispose of your old and broken ones.”
Consumers of electrics are entitled to free recycling on a one-for-one, like-for-like basis when buying instore or online, including on delivery.
Retailers Power City, DID, Expert, Euronics, Soundstore, Harvey Norman and Curry’s PC World, go beyond these regulatory obligations and include free drop off of all household e-waste and waste batteries in-store with no purchase required, as part of the ‘We’ll Take It Back’ Programme.
WeeeIreland.ie has an interactive map to help you find your nearest participating retailers and Local Authority Recycling Centres. Waste batteries can also be recycled for free wherever you buy them, at your local supermarket or newsagent.
For more information on waste reduction, repair, reuse and recycling of all types of waste see mywaste.ie