Ireland reflects on a year of WEEE

In the run up to the anniversary of the Irish introduction of the laws forcing those who put electrical goods on the market to take responsibility for them once they reach the end of their working life, Environment Minister Dick Roche has applauded the success of the scheme and willingness of consumers and producers alike to help things run smoothly.

Since the European Commission’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive was adopted by Dublin last August, Ireland has recycled over half a million items of E-waste including 85,000 fridge freezers, 78,000 TVs and almost 40,000 power tools.

That represents a five-fold increase in E-recycling since the scheme was introduced and the Irish have already smashed the EU target of recycling 4kg per inhabitant by 2008, reaching the 7kg mark already.

Minister Roche described the scheme a shining success and a clear indication of the public’s willingness to grapple with the problem of waste.

“By the end of May this year 21,500 tonnes were collected nationally, equivalent to an annual collection rate of 6.8 Kg per person,” said the Minister.

“Our EU target is to reach 4KG per person by end 2008. This performance would place us on course to achieving 170% of our target within the first 12 months and to double our EU target by end 2008.

“These figures confound some of the doom-laden prophecies that were being bandied about last year.”

Mr Roche was speaking this week at the launch of a national WEEE Monitoring Group, a watchdog comprising relevant public and industry stakeholders who will be responsible for ensuring the scheme continues to run smoothly.

Getting the WEEE directive off the ground has proved a hurdle for many EU countries, with several concerned about the economic impact while others struggle to get the necessary infrastructure in place.

It came as no surprise that Minister Roche was proud to fly the flag for Ireland, therefore.

“Having led the way in implementing the WEEE directive, Ireland can become a world class performer in recycling WEEE, Ireland’s performance to date has been stunning,” he said.

“We are we one of the leaders in Europe in transposing the directive, being one of only a handful of EU countries to have fully implemented the directive on time. We have been able to do this through partnership with industry, developing a sophisticated system that is being viewed as a model of how to implement a new producer responsibility initiative for this waste stream.”

He also said that, contrary to some predictions, the introduction of the scheme had not led to job losses and an economic nose dive, but rather had given Ireland a boost due to the creation of two new recycling facilities with a third on its way.

Sam Bond

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