Key players in the WEEE recycling sector have come together to help educate consumers about the need to recycle their waste electronic items. In a collaborative partnership between DHL, ERP, Overton Recycling, Repic, SWEEEP, Valpak, Wastepack and W&S, the sector is helping to fund a TV advertising campaign that will raise awareness of electronic recycling.
The sector is keenly aware that the UK’s current recycling rate of 14 per cent of smaller WEEE items is low and with EU legislators backing a target of 85 per cent for 2016, the nation is way behind its European counterparts and facing a tough few years if it is to meet this ambitious target.
Justin Greenaway, contracts manager at SWEEEP/Kuusakoski is coordinating the campaign. He said: "As with many new environmental legislations coming into force, there is a distinct lack of a centrally-led awareness campaign which is further compounded by public sector spending cuts. Householder participation with the WEEE directive is fundamental if we are going to meet the high targets being considered and communication is a critical part. If people don’t know they need to do something, they won’t.
"This is why the sector has felt the need to take matters into its own hands and through working with WRAP, we are providing the funds to develop an advert that will begin to take the message to the consumer. It’s great to see the industry coming together and work towards a common goal."
The sector is playing an important part in reusing and reprocessing used electrical items. Not only is this helping to divert waste from landfill, but it is also recovering materials that can be reused by manufacturers rather than using new, finite resources. The importance of this is shown by the fact it takes 1.8 tonnes of the Earth’s resources to make just one computer and, on average, 265 million new computers are made each year.
Paul James, general manager, development at DHL Environmental & Compliance Solutions said: ""Over the last three years DHL has been proactively working with its collection partners on a number of programmes and initiatives to improve public participation and WEEE diversion rates. Consequently, we are pleased to be a partner in this exciting industry initiative which we hope will further improve public awareness. It is good to see the WEEE industry working together with a common objective."
Scott Butler, general manager at ERP, said: "We are supporting this ad to make it easier for people to find out where they can take their small electricals for recycling. Small waste electricals can too easily end up in the bin, and we need to encourage people to take advantage of the opportunities they have to stop this happening in the future."
Dean Overton, managing director, Overton Recycling said: "The UK is falling well short on its WEEE collection compared to the more ‘recycling aware’ countries in Europe. The main reason for this is public ignorance of WEEE – and particularly the crucial link they form in the recycling chain. Overton Recycling welcomes this opportunity to play a positive role in this public education process."
Philip Morton, chief executive at REPIC, added: "REPIC and its members are keen to collect as much WEEE as possible in the UK through direct arrangements with designated collection facilities. By highlighting consumer responsibility for ensuring that end-of-life EEE is taken to these facilities, we hope to improve collection rates and minimise the illegal export or sub standard treatment of WEEE, benefiting everyone and the environment. We are delighted to be part of this initiative and hope it captures the public’s imagination and engages them further in WEEE recycling."
Duncan Simpson, director of sales and marketing at Valpak, said: "Valpak are very happy to support this important TV advertising campaign, which will help to raise consumer awareness of the importance of recycling old electrical and electronic items. This campaign will let people know where they can go to recycle their waste electrical items and it will help to ensure that these goods go to approved treatment facilities and end markets for processing. We can all make a difference and increase the amount WEEE diverted from landfill. This initiative will both increase consumer recycling knowledge and trust, as well as aid economies of scale in terms of collections while having a positive impact on the environment."
Martyn Parfit, commercial manager at Wastepack/Electrolink, said: "Wastepack are very proud to be taking part in this industry-led initiative to advertise WEEE recycling to the general public. Recent surveys paint a worrying picture of the lack of knowledge and understanding of what WEEE is. Clearly we have to tell more people about WEEE if we want more people to recycle WEEE – simple."
Tony Knowles, commercial director, W&S, said: "As a leading specialist WEEE collection company, W&S uplift all categories of WEEE from the general public via our 20 officially registered DCFs and direct from commercial clients throughout the UK mainland. Remember that for every single additional tonne of WEEE uplifted by W&S for processing, one tonne of electrical waste is diverted from landfill which is environmentally advantageous to all."
Interestingly, the WEEE directive came into force in the UK on the same day as the smoking ban, however three years on the WEEE directive is widely unknown whereas very few would consider lighting up in a public space.
"The reason behind the successful implementation of the smoking ban was widespread promotion and education. If the WEEE directive can only have a tiny percentage of the same airtime, we believe we will see significant increase in the amount of small WEEE being recycled," added Greenaway.