Written answers

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

Recycling Policy

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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263. To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to outline the extent to which his Department supports the principle of recycling of electrical goods, having particular regard to the efforts made by a company (details supplied) which endeavours to recycle such goods but finds it difficult to access the material for such recycling due to alternative disposal methods other than recycling, in view of the fact that Ireland is unlikely to meet its 5% target for recycling of electrical goods; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35707/16]

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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Ireland has met every target prescribed by the European Union under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive to date and I am satisfied that my Department has put in place the legislation and supporting structures and systems required to ensure that all future targets will continue to be met.

Each Member State is obliged to meet targets for the collection of household WEEE per person per annum, and separate targets for recovery, reuse and recycling for each of the ten categories of WEEE. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)statistics, published in September 2016, illustrate Ireland’s current progress towards meeting EU waste targets including WEEE. The most recent WEEE statistics are with respect to 2014 and demonstrate that 7.2 kg of household WEEE was collected per person in Ireland, compared to the EU target of 4 kg per person, and that Ireland is also meeting recovery rates of 80% and 90% across different recycling processes. This information is available on the EPA’s website .

These statistics are tangible proof of the positive response to the implementation of the WEEE directive in Ireland. Since the introduction of the Irish WEEE legislation, some 100 million waste electrical items have been collected and over 300,000 tonnes of WEEE diverted from landfill. The Irish public have supported the WEEE system and have fully utilised the network of free collection facilities and take-back options available to them. In so doing, they have played an important role in eradicating the visible blight on our countryside and towns caused by waste fridges and washing machines and other electro-scrap.

More than 300 people are employed in Ireland in direct connection with WEEE collection, recycling and treatment activity and 65% of all WEEE collected in Ireland is recycled by treatment facilities in Ireland. The introduction of the WEELABEX requirements into Irish WEEE legislation requires producers with obligations in Ireland to work with recyclers that are certified to the highest standard in the WEEE industry. This has had the effect of raising standards in the WEEE system in Ireland generally with domestic processing plants for small mixed WEEE, lamp recycling and television and monitor recycling in operation all of which have achieved WEELABEX certification.

While repair and re-use of WEEE is already well developed in Ireland, particularly in the social economy sector, the key to re-use organisations developing further is access to quality product, a fact acknowledged in the Irish WEEE legislation. Our legislation provides for such access in a co-ordinated and efficient manner for approved re-use organisations, who under our domestic WEEE Regulations now have a legal right to access WEEE from producer’s designated collection hubs.

There are a number of key social, economic and environmental benefits to be gained from the development of a strong re-use marketplace in Ireland and re-use of WEEE is consistent with EU and Irish strategies, policies and directives towards a more sustainable future and circular economy. I am satisfied that we have created the appropriate regulatory environment  to facilitate WEEE re-use and look forward to working with all stakeholders who wish  to play a full and active role in realising the potential of this market.


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