E-Wars: Combating Electrical Waste
1.45 million tonnes… that’s how much electrical waste that the UK produces each year. Electrical waste is one of the fastest-growing waste streams in the country. A majority goes on to be recycled but a large portion of this waste is simply thrown away.
150,000 tonnes of e-waste from domestic bins are sent to be incinerated or thrown into a landfill.
Electrical wastage costs the UK an estimated £370 million every year with the loss of raw materials that are found in computer components such as copper, aluminium and gold. It is also important that electric items are properly disposed of due to the chemical elements used in the technology that if improperly disposed of, can pollute the environment, and enter the food chain.
Many people are calling for companies that sell electricals to be more responsible for the handling of e-waste and educating customers on how to properly dispose of their unwanted tech. From January 2021 it is expected that a majority of shops that sell electricals must offer a take-back service to help consumers to correctly dispose of their items.
80% of larger electrical items such as ovens and fridges are correctly disposed of as they are harder to move so more often than not a curb-side collection is arranged. Smaller electrical items such as toasters and straighteners often end up in domestic bins as they are much smaller and fit within the collected bins. 1 in 5 of these items end up at recycling centres. By making it easier to re-cycle smaller appliances e-waste can be radically reduced.
In another attempt to reduce electrical waste, from March 2021 manufacturers of larger household appliances within the EU will be encouraged to make products easier to dissemble so consumers can access internal components and replace necessary parts to keep the appliance in a better condition for longer. Therefore, removing the need to replace the whole item, just a part or two instead.
Within the area local to our business, more councils and businesses are becoming responsible for the handling of electrical waste. The most recent announcement came from Redcar & Cleveland Council who announced that they will now be collecting small electrical items from households within their county. The items such as batteries, toasters and kettles must be put into clear plastic bags and placed beside the domestic bins on collection days. This is a positive step towards combating electrical waste and will hopefully encourage other councils to follow suit.