Separate target needed to put re-use before recycling
A new report recommends setting national ‘preparing for re-use’ targets for large household appliances and IT equipment and to assess the feasibility of setting targets for other electronics categories. The study, carried out on behalf of the Irish Environmental Protection Agency, concludes that without a separate target, the existing waste management system in Ireland will continue its focus on recycling waste electricals at the lowest possible cost, without prioritising re-use.
Based on experiences from Belgium, France, Austria, the UK and Spain the study also highlights the importance of the combination of preparing for re-use activities with the employment of individuals at risk of socio-exclusion as a key factor to developing preparation for re-use outside of Ireland.
Currently at EU level, targets for WEEE are a combination of preparing for re-use and recycling. In 2017 the European Commission concluded that it was not in a position to set separate targets at EU following an investigation into the subject mandated by the WEEE Directive. Nevertheless, following the rent updates to the EU Waste Framework Directive, the EU Commission will once again look into the feasibility of setting separate targets by the end of 2024.
RREUSE maintains that separate preparing for re-use targets are needed at EU level separate to that of recycling both for WEEE and municipal waste. Such targets already exist in Spain and Belgium. Targets will help encourage new partnerships between social enterprise re-use operators, public authorities and the private sector, helping divert at least a portion of re-useable discarded goods from being prematurely recycled, buried or burned, and creating local green jobs in the process.
- EPA Report No. 241 (2018) Research of Upcycling Supports to Increase Re-use, with a Focus on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (UpWEEE)
- EU Parliament vote brings national re-use discussions a step closer