Data concerns preventing one in five adults recycling old devices, survey finds

Data Concerns Preventing One In Five Adults Recycling Old Devices, Survey Finds Data Concerns Preventing One In Five Adults Recycling Old Devices, Survey Finds
People have been encouraged to look up ways of wiping their old devices so they can recycle them. Photo: PA
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By Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

Data concerns are holding one in five adults back from recycling their unused tech items, a survey has indicated.

The findings by Empathy Research, carried out on behalf of WEEE Ireland, a not-for-profit organisation which encourages electrical recycling, indicates that a further 22 per cent keep old devices as back-ups.

Figures from WEEE Ireland indicate that for every ten new tech products sold in Ireland, only four are being returned for recycling once they are no longer used.

About six million devices such as mobiles, laptops, tablets, printers, cables and chargers were sold in Ireland each year in the past three years.

Based on those figures, the rate of recycling of old technology in Ireland since 2020 is 40 per cent.

Empathy Research also found that 12 per cent of people still put small electronic waste items in general household bins.

Chief executive of WEEE Ireland Leo Donovan is urging people to recycle their old tech and accessories, emphasising the straightforward nature of backing up and wiping old devices.

“There are millions of devices languishing in Irish homes that could be recycled and put to good use once people can overcome their reservations about wiping them after they are properly backed up,” he said.

“Most phone and laptop manufacturers have user-friendly instructions on their websites for backing up and deleting data, ensuring that valuable information is not lost or exposed.

“Also, holding on to old technology in case it’s needed later is often futile, as more often than not, these devices end up collecting dust and are never used again.

“If recycled correctly, these old and broken devices, along with their integrated batteries, chargers and cables, provide a significant source of critical and strategic secondary raw materials.

“These are essential to both Ireland’s and the wider EU’s green and digital ambitions in various industry sectors, including renewable energy, transport, health and technology.

“Cobalt and lithium are crucial for batteries, while gallium is critical for semi-conductors, but these critical raw materials are in scarce supply.”

WEEE Ireland operates a scheme for the take-back and management of waste batteries and free recycling services for large and small household electrical and electronic waste.

It said that new EU battery regulations due this summer will see a significant increase in collection targets.

The current national recycling target for batteries is 45 per cent, which is being achieved according to the latest figures.

More than 1,000 adults in Ireland, 51 per cent women and 49 per cent men, took part in the online survey, which was carried out between April 4th-13th.

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