Watts the buzz? - mywaste My Waste

Watts the buzz?

21 Oct 2022


Our modern world is full of devices that make life easier, from mobile phones and computers to hairdryers and drills. In Ireland alone nearly 60 million new electrical items were purchased last year, a number which is always increasing as we upgrade devices. This increase is a response to technological advances along with advertising and marketing making us believe we need the latest version. 

Watt are they?

The general term “electricals” covers a wide variety of products from large household items such a fridges and washing machines to smaller such as hairdryers and toasters; these are the items we all associate as being electrical but let’s not forget there are the really small items like vapes, earbuds or anything witha plug or battery, oh and all of those cables we use to charge these items too.

Watt are the options? 

The world of gadgets moves very fast, with consumers upgrading regularly meaning that second hand items still hold their value so be sure to donate or sell them. Repair and reuse should always come before recycling. Check out www.repairmystuff.ie for repair services in your area and before you buy that replacement toaster or hair dryer why not see if it can be repaired first saving you money and meaning less resources are used. 

Watt is WEEE and why should I know about it?

Electrical, electronic and battery waste, known as WEEE, is one of the fastest growing waste streams as well as being one of the most hazardous. Batteries and electronic goods contain heavy metals, such as mercury, cadmium and lead, which can pollute soil and water and are dangerous to human health.

Recycling of this WEEE is not only good for the environment and our health, it also makes sense; many of the valuable components and precious metals which can be used again and again in new products.

Waste electricals producer responsibility became law in 2005. If a company imports, manufactures or rebrands electricals, it must register as a producer and ensure the recycling target is achieved.

For us, the consumers, recycling of these WEEE items is free. You can bring them to your local recycling centre or civic amenity site. You can also bring them to your local electrical shop for recycling and it does not have to be the same shop where you bought the original product. You can recycle these items without purchasing a new product but only if the shop sells the same type of product. For example, you can’t return a power drill to a shop that does not sell power drills. Just look out for the We’ll take it back signs.

Watts the story with batteries? 

You can return dead batteries to any retailer but only if they are selling the same types of batteries. You can just drop waste batteries into the boxes that are displayed in many supermarkets and other shops. You don’t need to buy new batteries when dropping off the old ones. Remember batteries should never be placed in your general waste bin. 

Watt happens to the items I send for Recycling?

Old electrical items, especially the smaller items, tend to sit in drawers, cupboards and sheds. However, recycling electricals that cannot be reused or sold are vital to a circular system as they contain precious metals and other materials.

These precious metals are great conductors allowing devices to become smaller and more efficient. Take the smartphone you’re possibly reading this on, it contains gold, silver, copper, platinum, aluminium and palladium. Each device contains very small amounts of these so don’t go breaking it open to find them, collectively there are over 6 billion smartphone owners on the planet meaning a significant amount of those precious metals can be recovered. Be sure to check those drawers at home and stop letting old devices gather dust and send them for recycling. 

The world of gadgets moves very fast, with consumers upgrading regularly, and second hand items still hold their value. Reuse is always better than recycling, so if the electrical item still works it is better to find an opportunity for reuse, like donating or selling it, rather than recycling it.

In Ireland we have two compliance schemes for WEEE, you can find more info about them here or click on the logos below to check out their websites directly.

Author – Declan Breen