WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) is anything that has a plug or a battery and is at the end of its useful life.
In the house, old and broken fridges and washing machines are examples but don’t forget the little guys! Remote controls, batteries, electric toothbrushes, electrical tools, toys and even your old bicycle lamps can also be recycled!
You would be surprised what items you have lying around the house that count as WEEE when they are no longer able to be used. Take a look at what can be recycled.
Large domestic appliances-washing machines, cookers, dishwashers, etc.
Cooling appliances-refrigerators and freezers, water cooler, etc.
Display Equipment-CRT, LCD and plasma televisions and computer monitors.
Small domestic appliances-keyboard, toasters, electrical tools, toys, etc.
Gas Discarge Lamps-fluorescent tubes, low-energy light bulbs (CFLs).
Battery rechargeable and single-use.
Since September 2008, all shops that sell batteries must take back your waste batteries for free recycling, regardless of whether you purchase anything in their store. This is part of a European Directive which came into force in 2008, to encourage battery recycling across the EU.
Batteries can be recycled in any outlet that sells batteries of similar type. Household batteries such as AA, AAA and button cell batteries can be brought back to your local supermarket, newsagent or discount store. Car batteries can be brought back to your local garage or motor factor, and electric fence batteries can be brought to your local agri-store.
The Irish Producer Compliance Schemes have distributed battery recycling boxes to shops around the country. Look out for the battery boxes in stores near you.
Yes, but this is not just for TVs, it works for any electrical product from stereos to computers. But be warned, it is on a ‘like for like basis’ so don’t expect the shop to recycle your old fridge when you’re only buying an electric toothbrush! Instead, bring this fridge to your local recycling centre.
I have a lot of old batteries in my house, how do I go about getting them recycled?
You can return waste batteries to your local shop so long as it sells the same type of battery (E.g. your local newsagents will take any portable batteries like AA but not car batteries. Your local garage will take car batteries but not portable batteries). Unlike WEEE, with batteries you don’t have to purchase anything in the shop to do this; you can just drop them in the Irish Producer Compliance Scheme battery boxes in the store.
Just be careful when bringing back portable batteries to bring back less than 5kgs at any one time, and don’t return any leaking batteries because the chemicals in leaky batteries can be dangerous to your health and the shopkeepers.
You can also return your batteries to recycling centres and other collection points free of charge.
Why am I being charged extra when I buy electrical goods? Is this a scam?
No, it’s not a scam. Some electrical goods show a visible Producer Recycling Fund (PRF) contribution on their price ticket indicating the environmental management cost for recycling WEEE. Recycling old electrical items can be expensive and the PRF helps fund this process and ensures that these items are managed in an environmentally sound manner and are recycled at the end of their lives.
Yes, in the case of fridges or freezers you must take out all the food and have them defrosted so that they don’t make a mess and attract unwanted rodents during transport and recycling. With computers and other communication devices, don’t forget to securely wipe the drives before recycling. With everything else, just make sure they are removed from their packaging, are as clean as possible and don’t pose a health and safety risk to our friends at the recycling centres.
What about people who won’t recycle their WEEE because they’ve heard it can be expensive and don’t have much free time?
Remind these people that Recycling WEEE is Free. What’s more, it’s very easy to do! All you need to do is remember to return your old items when buying new ones or hold on to them until there’s a lot to be recycled and then take a short trip to your local recycling centre where you can recycle the goods free of charge. Also keep an eye out for ERP Ireland and WEEE Irelands special recycling events in your area. Each one of us has a part to play in making sure our planet doesn’t get destroyed unnecessarily so always remember to recycle WEEE and remind others to do it too!