The service – a partnership between Rehab Recycle and Indaver Ireland – has the capacity to meet the entire annual target set for Ireland by the EU under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive which comes into effect in August. Eighteen people, the majority of whom are workers with disabilities are already employed in the new service and it is expected that this will rise to 40 by the end of the year.
Through its plants in Dublin, Cork and Galway, Rehab Recycle will be able to reprocess some 50 tonnes of WEEE each day – the equivalent of around 2,000 TV sets. This means it can surpass Ireland’s initial target of 16,000 tonnes of WEEE – approximately four kilos for every man woman and child in the country – which must be met in 2006.
Following the introduction of the Directive, consumers will be entitled to return WEEE either to where it was purchased or to an authorised collection point free of charge. Producers will become responsible for the final disposal of goods such as fridges, microwaves, mobile phones, TVs and computers. Anyone found guilty of putting these into landfill could face substantial fines of up to €15 million and possibly a jail term.
“Current estimates suggest that each person generates around 20 kilos of WEEE a year and to start at a fifth of that is no soft target,” said Rehab Recycle general manager, Bob Rowat. “In addition to having the capacity to meet all of Ireland’s obligations in recycling WEEE, we are developing sophisticated systems to collect it throughout the country.” As well as collecting from local authority bring sites and recycling parks, we have agreements with many multinationals and large indigenous companies to collect very significant volumes of waste products on their behalf.
Additionally, Rehab is the lead player in developing a Europe-wide agreement to collect WEEE between Workability International, which represents organisations providing employment for a combined total of over two million people with disabilities and a consortium of some of the world’s largest manufacturers of electrical and electronic goods.
A crucial element of the new service, said Mr Rowat, is the involvement of Indaver Ireland. Operating since 1977, the company has a considerable track record in delivering high quality, cost effective services in the specialist hazardous and non-hazardous waste markets in this country. It also has significant experience of recycling WEEE through its operations in Belgium. Mr John Johnston, Indaver Ireland’s commercial manager, said the launch of the facility in Tallaght was an important first step in the co-operation between Rehab and Indaver Ireland. “Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment is one of Ireland’s fastest growing waste streams and this facility as well as the others we have planned with Rehab, will go a long way towards addressing the infrastructural deficit that currently exists in dealing with this waste type,” said Mr Johnston.
Speaking at the launch, Minister Roche expressed his support for the initiative. “It is great to see Irish companies like Rehab Recycle in partnership with Indaver meeting this challenge. The facility will provide a real solution to producers in Ireland to ensure that we meet our environmental obligations in this regard fully. It is an excellent and innovative scheme and I wish all involved every success.”
Rehab Recycle has also been a major player in Irish recycling for many years. Now, through its nationwide network of more than 1,800 bring sites, the company reprocesses the vast majority of consumer waste glass in Ireland – more than 162 million bottles and jars in 2004, as well as recycling large quantities of cans, textiles, cardboard and paper.