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International E-Waste Day to focus on the role of consumers in improving rates of reuse, refurbishment and recycling of electrical waste

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According to the Global E-Waste Monitor, Europeans are some of the biggest producers of electrical waste – this year’s International E-waste Day on 14th October 2021 is a vital reminder that every citizen has a part to play to help improve the recycling rates of electrical waste and help make the economy circular.

Every year over 500,000 tonnes of e-waste is recycled in the UK. There is more that can be done to increase the amount of end-of-life electricals which are recycled through the appropriate routes and recover valuable materials such as gold, aluminium and copper for electricals such as laptops, phones, charging cables and small household appliances.

E-waste can be considered part of the ‘urban mine’, and in some cases elements are more concentrated than traditional mining: for example, there is 100 times more gold in a tonne of smartphones than in a tonne of gold ore. Specific country awareness campaigns and a collective International focus on tackling e-waste helps unite households across the globe to take responsibility and instead of throwing away and hoarding old electricals, pass them on or recycle them so these valuable resources can be recovered and used again in new appliances.

There are so many factors that play a role in making the electronics sector resource efficient and circular. But one thing stands out: as long as citizens don’t return their used, broken gear to officially recognized collection points, or sell it on, or donate it to charity, we will need to continue mining the materials, which is much more damaging for the environment,” says Pascal Leroy, Director General of the WEEE Forum. “This is why the International E-Waste Day this year will focus on the responsibility we all have, as citizens, to help make the economy circular.” he added.

Alongside convenience, (financial) compensation, care for environment, culture and social norms, awareness is one of the key motivators for people to take action and return their unused and non-functional electronic items” says Magdalena Charytanowicz, in charge of the organisation of International E-Waste Day. “This is why on 14 October this year we want to promote the responsible disposal of end-of-life electronics and reach as many citizens worldwide as possible by encouraging compaigns and awareness activities. These may be e-waste collections, school lectures, press and social media campaigns or conferences that debate these issues. Even the smallest action promoting responsible e-waste collection, repair, reuse or recycling is welcome in the frame of International E-Waste Day. 

Last year over 120 organisations from 50 countries worldwide supported the celebrations. This year too the WEEE Forum invites all organisations involved in effective and responsible e-waste management to plan awareness raising activities for 14th October and join this common effort by registering here.

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The WEEE Forum a.i.s.b.l. is a worldwide, Brussels-based for-impact association representing forty-five producer responsibility organisations across the globe. Together with our members, we are at the forefront of turning the extended producer responsibility principle into an effective electronic waste management policy approach through our combined knowledge of the technical, business and operational aspects of collection, logistics, de-pollution, processing, preparing for reuse and reporting of e-waste. Our mission is to be the world’s foremost e-waste competence centre excelling in the implementation of the circularity principle. The forty-five PROs are based in Europe, Oceania, Africa, Asia and the Americas: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Czechia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Italy, Greece, France, Iceland, India, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. In 2019, its member organisations reported collection and proper de-pollution and recycling of 2,781,000 tonnes of WEEE.

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