Potential reuse value of WEEE could top £220m

More than £220m could be generated from almost a quarter of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) thrown out each year, according to a report from WRAP.

Looking at the potential reuse value for WEEE items disposed of by consumers at household waste recycling centres and through local authority-run bulky waste collections, WRAP’s research concluded that 23% of WEEE could be recycled and sold on.

These calculations were based on annual totals of 348,000 tonnes of WEEE taken to recycling sites, and a further 149,000 tonnes gathered in bulky waste collections.

As a result, WRAP has said there is a potential to create high resale value from repair, refurbishment and open market resale and wants more action to be taken to promote the reuse of WEEE.

Commenting on the findings, WRAP’s project manager for products and materials Lucy Keal said: “This research demonstrates the crucial importance of promoting the reuse of WEEE. We’re currently throwing away equipment that’s in perfect working order, or could be easily repaired or refurbished for someone else to use.

“Consumers often assume it will be cheaper to replace items rather than have them repaired, but it’s clear from our research that there’s real value to be had from these discarded goods.”

According to WRAP, even taking into account the cost of acquiring and repairing the WEEE that gross revenues of more than £220m a year could be made, which could result in profits of more than £100m.

Keal added: “As you’d expect, the resale values vary depending on the categories, smaller items typically have lower reuse potential but the proportion that is reusable has a higher value than other categories.

“Large domestic appliances such as washing machines offer good potential value, from reuse, use of parts or from scrap, and make up 61% of the resale value from the bulky waste collections. Fridges and freezers offer particularly good reuse potential if they’re still working.”

The full report can be viewed here.

Carys Matthews

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