Ireland recycled a record level of electrical goods last year, according to WEEE Ireland.

More than 38,700 tonnes of electrical waste was recycled in the year, equivalent to 10.9kg per person.

Pandemic-related restrictions did impact retailers – which are required to take-in e-waste – as well as the amount of items coming from the construction industry.

However people spending more time at home saw more people clearing out forgotten items, leading to an overall increase in the volumes going through the scheme.

"The shutdown allowed people to clear out those attics and garages where they've been hoarding their old electrical appliances, and gave them an opportunity to bring back those appliances free-of-charge." Said Leo Donovan, CEO of WEEE Ireland.

"We’re one of the best recycling facilities in Europe in terms of taking back electronic waste – that’s equivalent to about 18.6m units; about 500,000 large appliances like a dishwasher."

The WEEE scheme is part of a European Union directive which requires that the equivalent of at least 65% of electrical products put on the market is recycled each year.

However, despite the rise in e-waste recycling, WEEE Ireland says the boom in electronics sales during 2020 has made it harder to meet that target.

"That is the challenge that we have – we’ve had the largest volume of material going on the market in the last year," said Mr Donovan. "WEEE Ireland members placed 63,000 tonnes of material on the market – and that has to come back.

"That’s why we need a big participation by the public in bringing back their electronics."

WEEE Ireland has called for the repair and reuse of electronics to be factored in to Ireland’s data, as an increasing number of products are being maintained or upcycled for a longer period of time.

It also said that a lot of e-waste is being scrapped or exported outside of the WEEE system, which means it is not currently counted towards Ireland’s target.

"91% of call-outs result in a very successful repair to a product," Mr Donovan said. "This is a call that we have to the Government, to include the good work that the industry is doing on the repair of products.

"Take the lighting industry – we’ve moved away from old fluorescent tubes to the long-life LED, energy efficient bulbs, we want the Government to reflect the benefits of the initiatives at the design stage and the repairability of products."