This year, the main focus of International E-Waste Day (#ewasteday) taking place on 14 October, will be those small electrical devices that we no longer use but keep in drawers and cupboards or often toss in the general waste bin.
© WEEE Forum
Small, end of life electrical and electronic appliances present a significant challenge. The UN estimated that in 2019, over 22 million tonnes of small e-waste were produced worldwide. This is 40 % of the 57 million tonnes of all e-waste arising globally. If the quantity of these small items keeps on increasing at the same rate as total e-waste (around 3 %/a), it will reach 29 million tonnes by 2030.
Due to their small size, items such as cell phones, electric toothbrushes, toasters and cameras are often discarded incorrectly, and they make up a significant proportion of the 8 % of all e-waste that is thrown in waste bins which is subsequently landfilled or incinerated. This means the important raw materials they contain cannot be extracted and are lost. In Europe, up to 1.4 kg of e-waste per inhabitant ends up in the general waste bin every year. On top of this, small appliances are easily stored and forgotten about in drawers, cupboards, garages, basements and attics. In an average European household, up to 5 kg of e-devices per person is currently hoarded.
“In this context it is crucial that people become more aware and that the loss of the important resources these items contain is stopped. This is why the focus of International E-Waste Day 2022 will be on small items of e-waste, under the slogan ‘Recycle it all, no matter how small!’” says Pascal Leroy, Director General of the WEEE Forum.
“The producer responsibility organisations in the WEEE Forum that manage the collection of e-waste are constantly working to make the proper disposal of small e-waste simple and convenient for consumers. Provide collection boxes in supermarkets, pick up of small broken appliances upon delivery of new ones and offer PO Boxes to return small e-waste are just some of the things they do to encourage the return of these items” continues Pascal Leroy.