International E-Waste Day 14 October 2022: Recycle it all, no matter how small!
International E-Waste Day is held each year to raise awareness of the impacts of e-waste and the steps needed to develop circularity for our electrical products.
This year, International E-Waste Day (14 October) focuses on small electrical devices that are often out of use, kept in our homes, that are being disposed of in the wrong way in the general waste bin. The quantity of these small electrical devices is increasing, as the UN estimated that globally in 2019, 22 million tonnes (40%) of the 57 million tonnes of e-waste globally created was small devices. If the quantity of small devices keeps increasing at the same rate as total e-waste, (around 3% per year), it will reach 29 million tonnes by 2030!
It is often due to their size that small electrical devices are recycled incorrectly, as they fit with ease in our general waste bins. It is items such as mobile phones, electric toothbrushes, toasters and cameras that are amongst the items discarded incorrectly and despite their size, make up a significant proportion of e-waste that end up in landfill or incineration. This creates a barrier to achieving a circular economy, as the raw materials the items contain cannot be re-used and are simply lost.
Within this new story we want to provide guidance on how best dispose of small electrical items to ultimately reduce the frightening number, which is currently 8% of e-waste that is thrown in waste bins. Therefore, before you look to dispose of any electrical device, firstly assess if there is anything you can do with it before you look to recycle it;
- Can you sell the device and earn a bit of extra money
- Could you give it to someone else that needs it
- Could you donate it to a charitable organisation
If you cannot move forward with the options above, the next step is to determine if it is recyclable:
- Are there any plugs in your electrical items?
- Is it battery operated?
- Does the item require charging?
- Is there a picture displaying a crossed-out bin on it?
If any of these elements are applicable, then the electronics are recyclable and should never been thrown in your waste bin, instead recycle the device properly by considering the following options:
- Locate the nearest local recycling centre or company and take your equipment to them. Local skips often have a specific containers for electrical items now.
- Many recycling companies also offer a collection service from your home.
When recycled properly our electrical items go through the following process which promote and support the circular economy.
- The equipment moves through the conveyor belts after its collection, here various types of plastics and useful components are filtered out.
- The shredder then breaks the rest of the body into small pieces.
- Such recycling companies also remove precious metals like copper and gold from electrical items because such metals are hard to find now.
- The plastic and extracted items can then be re-used to create new small electrical items.
If you are a business and are looking to properly recycle your electricals waste items (small or large) our WEEE collection service can help you. We work with a wide range of Approved Authorised Treatment Facilities (AATFs) across the UK, who correctly recycle your items and give you proof in the form of documentation. Should the electrical waste be of a quality standard with the opportunity to extract various metals, the AATF may be able to provide a financial rebate. Read more about our service here.