As a member of the WEEE Forum, REPIC is taking part in the 2023 International E-waste Day (IEWD) campaign. The 2023 campaign, under the slogan “You can recycle anything with a plug, battery or cable!”, aims to highlight the issue of invisible WEEE – the electrical products that often go unrecognised and are not properly recycled as WEEE.
Whilst some types of products are easily recognisable as electricals, such as washing machines and laptops for others it does not appear to be as clear to the consumer. In addition, , a significant amount of electrical products can remain “hidden” or “hoarded” in our homes and garages.
REPIC’s research from the 2022 IEWD campaign revealed the extent of the hoarding issue with UK households holding on to more unwanted IT equipment than any other small appliances and gadgets. A staggering 11.7 million laptops and 9.7 million tablets that either have the potential to be passed on or be recycled, both featured in the five most hoarded items in first and third place respectively.
Last year’s survey also revealed that a staggering 20.7 million IT products that are working and not used – estimated to be worth £4.2 billion – are hoarded in UK households.
What is International E-waste Day?
International E-waste Day (IEWD) is an annual awareness raising celebration initiated by the WEEE Forum and its members and takes place every year on 14th of October. It aims to highlight the growing scale of electrical and electronic waste and promote responsible recycling and reuse of end of life appliances.
Last year’s activity, supported by Material Focus and its Recycle Your Electricals campaign, attracted a huge amount of media attention, social media awareness and REPIC hopes that the momentum can continue to build with more retailers businesses and organisations involved in waste electrical recycling taking part to make the 2023 campaign even bigger.
Louise Grantham, Chief Executive at REPIC, commented: “More education is required to continue to build awareness of the importance of recycling broken electricals and also those we longer use, need or want as these all contain valuable precious materials that can be kept in circulation for longer.
“IEWD has been steadily gaining traction over the years and it would be great to continue to attract more retailers, businesses and organisations to offer a collective educational voice to this year’s awareness campaign.”
What is the invisible WEEE?
Invisible WEEE refers to electrical and electronic waste that goes unnoticed due to its nature or appearance, leading consumers to overlook its recyclable potential. As today’s lifestyle is more and more technology oriented, a lot of products present on the market have electrical or electronic components. This means that at the end of their lives, when they can no longer be reused or repaired, they should be part of the WEEE recycling stream.
Invisible WEEE can include electric and battery-operated toys, e-cigarettes, power tools, smoke detectors, smart home gadgets, e-bikes and e-scooters, USB sticks and chargers.
Why is invisible WEEE a problem?
Small consumer electronics and accessories (such as headphones, remote controls – often not recognised as electricals by householders) rank top of the list of hoarded products. If these gadgets remain in drawers and cupboards, the valuable resources they contain cannot re-enter the manufacturing cycle and are lost.
When broken products and components are disposed of improperly because they are not recognised as being WEEE, they may end up in the waste bin. Some of these products and components may contain hazardous substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and flame retardants, which if not managed properly cancan cause pollution or pose risks to human health.
They may also contain valuable resources, including precious metals like gold, silver, and copper, as well as other critical raw materials which are crucial for the green transition and production of new electronic devices. When WEEE is not recycled properly, these valuable materials go to waste. Mining and extracting new resources to meet the demand for new products contributes to the depletion of finite resources and climate change.
How to join in with the 2023 International E-Waste Day celebrations!
International E-Waste Day serves as a platform for raising awareness about responsible WEEE recycling. Last year 194 organisations from 72 countries across 6 different continents registered as participants, with many more entities marking the day with activities, news reports and online campaigns.
This year #ewasteday will again take place on 14 October 2023 and organisations involved in the reuse and recycling of WEEE who want to participate in the campaign are invited to register here.