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Ireland eager to rejuvenate e-scrap and repair sector

Ireland is launching an industry-wide drive to extend the lives of repairable white goods to combat a major shortage of electrical repair experts – whose average age is now almost sixty.

The new ‘Circular Economy Skills Initiative’ course aims to produce enough experts to ensure thousands of washing machines, fridges and dishwashers are given a new lease of life in homes and businesses across the country. The free 26 week long programme with spots for at least 20 trainees is the result of a collaboration between e-scrap recycling organisation WEEE Ireland, the White Goods Association and technical training agency FIT.

WEEE Ireland recycled over 470 000 white goods appliances in 2020. However, no Irish training programme for the next generation of repair technicians has been available for a decade, says ceo Leo Donovan. He calls the initiative a ‘fantastic solution’ to some of the circular economy challenges the e-scrap sector is facing.

‘It helps address a skill that is vital to ensuring we can keep householders’ electrical goods in circulation for longer. However, we must go further in encouraging circular activity by including the repair and reuse of electrical products in the EU takeback target and not solely end-of-life recycling targets.’

The value of repair and reuse is proven in research by European home appliance association APPLiA, which found that 91% of requests to manufacturers for product fixes in 2018, resulted in an actual repair, keeping these appliances in use for much longer.

Last year, WEEE Ireland also partnered with the White Goods Association to promote repair of electrical appliances on RepairMyStuff.ie. The platform connects consumers with over 800 professionals in Ireland able to repair everything from watches to washing machines.

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