UK households generate second highest level of e-waste in Europe

By Ellen Daniel

UK households generate the second-highest amount of e-waste in Europe, according to a study by rubbish removal company Clearitwaste.

Discarded devices often contain a range of chemicals that are harmful to the environment, such as mercury and lead, making it important to dispose of them correctly.

Using data from the Global E-Waste Statistics Partnership and household composition data from the United Nations, Clearitwaste calculated the average amount of e-waste per household.

The average UK household creates 55kg of e-waste each year, the equivalent weight of twenty 22-inch computer monitors.

Out of the 39 countries in Europe where data was available, the UK is the second-worst offender, beaten only by Norway, with Ireland Switzerland and Spain also ranking highly. At the other end of the scale was Moldova, which produces 11.6kg of e-waste per household per year.

In 2019, 53.6 million tonnes of electronic waste was produced globally, according to statistics from the United Nations.

Clearitwaste also conducted a survey to understand Brits’ attitudes to e-waste. Out of the 1,622 people surveyed, 16% did not know what e-waste was, while just 36% said they were confident they knew how to dispose of their old electronic items correctly.

Furthermore, 87% of respondents said that governments and public bodies should do more to better educate the public on the environmental impact of discarded electronic devices.

In response to the issue, energy specialists SaveonEnergy urged households to think about the amount of e-waste produced, particularly in the run-up to Christmas when many may receive new electronic devices. It advised households to sell old electronic goods online if they still work, repurpose old devices and think carefully before giving electronic items as gifts.

Last week the UK government’s Environmental Audit Committee said that tech companies such as Apple make it “nearly impossible” to repair devices and called on them to play their part in recycling.

Read More: Why reusability must become the new consumer technology norm.