‘Recycling Habits during Covid-19’ research reveals consumers are more environmentally aware
The European Recycling Platform (ERP), Ireland’s only pan-European compliance scheme for WEEE and Waste Batteries, today released figures highlighting an increase of electronic waste recycling during the Covid-19 pandemic. Overall, ERP Ireland identified a 9% increase in electronic waste recycling per person with over 5.6 million electrical items collected during 2020. The ERP Ireland figures highlight a 19% increase in the recycling of large kitchen appliances including washing machines, ovens and dishwashers with an average 56% jump in the recycling of these objects during April and May compared to the previous year. ERP Ireland collected 530 tonnes of batteries in 2020 a 7% increase from the previous year, enough batteries to line the length of Ireland – twice!
ERP Ireland also announced results of the ‘Recycling Habits during Covid-19’ study by Coyne Research, which highlights recycling behaviours during the pandemic, identifying items recycled, items repaired, as well as items kept unused in the family home and the reasons for hoarding them. The nationally representative online survey carried out amongst 1,000 adults aged 18+ years, revealed that:
- A kettle was the most recycled object over the past twelve months, with 1 in 4 Irish adults claiming to have recycled one in the past year.
- TV (19%), large kitchen appliances (17%), plugs/cables/chargers (16%), microwave (14%), toaster/sandwich maker (14%) and mobile phone (13%) were also amongst the top items recycled.
- 1 in 5 Irish adults has a DVD player and video player unused gathering dust in their homes.
- A PC or laptop was the most repaired item in 2020, with 1 in 10 Irish adults fixing one in the last twelve months.
- Over two-thirds of respondents claimed to have unused electrical items in their home.
- 14% claim they have a sewing machine, iPod/MP3 player, Walkman/Discman, and plugs/cables/chargers unused in their home.
- Just under half of respondents said they do not recycle unused electrical items as they feel they may use them again in the future, with only 8% concerned about data privacy.
Additional Insights on recycling behaviours identified within the ‘Recycling Habits during Covid-19’ research include:
- 4 in 5 Irish adults are aware of their local recycling centre as a location for recycling electronic equipment for free
- Over 7 in 10 are aware of their local electrical retailer as a location for recycling electronic equipment for free
- 4 in 5 adults are aware of their local recycling centre and their local supermarket as locations for recycling used batteries for free.
The ‘Recycling Habits during Covid-19’ research also pointed out that only one in four Irish adults (24%) understand what is meant by the Circular Economy with those aged between 18 and 37 most likely to understand the meaning of the term. Traditionally, economies in the developed world have been based on a “take, make, dispose” model. A circular economy is based on long-life products that can be renewed, reused, repaired, upgraded, and refurbished to preserve precious natural resources, protect habitats, and reduce pollution.
Commenting on the ‘Recycling Habits during Covid-19’ research survey, Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Ossian Smyth TD said, “We are delighted to see behavioural change through the pandemic and hope this continues thereafter. We commend ERP for their work in recycling electrical waste and batteries. We are currently consuming at a rate that requires three planets. This is unsustainable. A circular economy provides us with the opportunity to consume less resources and to extend the productive life of the objects we buy and use. Covid-19 has presented a new normal for everyone and there are so many possibilities. Ireland’s waste management policy has long prioritised waste prevention and this has been the starting point for the growth of circular economy thinking. Our goal is to have a circular economy that reduces Ireland’s carbon impact and protects our natural resources, environment, and health.”
Martin Tobin, CEO, ERP Ireland said: “In Ireland, we have seen significant increases in domestic waste presented for collection and recycling. Some of this is thought to be associated with home clear-outs or spring cleaning as many people are spending more time at home. Consumers are increasingly more environmentally aware, and we have seen people’s recycling activities change for the better. During 2020, we collected an average of 11.71 Kg of electronic waste per person in Ireland, an increase of 9% over 2019, and 70% of the average of electronic equipment placed on the market over three proceeding years, exceeding the 65% target. We are delighted to see this marked increase and feel that we can do more.”