Recycle Your Electricals: 20.7 million unused tech electricals currently stored in UK homes

As commissioned by the Recycling Electrical Producers' Industry Consortium (REPIC), Recycle Your Electricals has published new research that highlights the 20.7 million unused but working tech electricals, worth £5.63 billion, currently being ‘hoarded’ in UK homes.

E-wasteThis analysis, in partnership with personal finance expert Paul Lewis, is in advance of International E-waste Day (14 October), which champions the message that ‘we should recycle it all, no matter how small’.

On average a UK household could profit £200 through selling unused but working tech, simultaneously helping those who could benefit from low-priced technology.

In terms of broken tech, the research identified that 18.6 million items are currently being stored in UK homes – including laptops, tablets, computers, and games consoles that ‘could be recycled’.    

The research found that UK households hold onto IT equipment more than other small appliances and gadgets. 11.7 million laptops and 9.17 million tablets have the potential to be sold or recycled.

As well as this, Recycle Your Electricals has confirmed that 18.5 million games consoles and 6.5 million computers also have the potential to be sold or recycled.

Overall, it was found that 33 per cent of households have at least one electrical device in their home that doesn't work that could be recycled. However, only 33 per cent of people are confident that they know how to recycle their electricals.

The research offers the following advice for selling electricals:

  1. Sort – Separate your unwanted electricals into 3 piles: sell, donate, or recycle.
  2. Prepare – Before bagging up your old items to donate, sell, or recycle make sure you remove batteries, bulbs and memory cards, and delete data from smart devices and IT.
  3. Cash in – Check out peer-to-peer marketplaces – where you get to keep most of the sale price. Or, if you’re replacing a product, some retailers buy back your old one.

Paul Lewis said: “If you are beginning to struggle financially or are worried about your financial future there are positive steps all of us can take to help ourselves or others financially. There really is treasure in our tech that can be sold or recycled to, help families or help the environment.”

Scott Butler, Executive Director of Material Focus said: “This new research has shown again what we know. There is a huge amount of value in a household’s unwanted electricals, whether sold so that they can be reused, donated to help those in need, or recycled so that the valuable materials inside our devices can be recovered and made into something new. 

“Electricals and tech are valuable, and this value will be lost forever if they are thrown away. Anything with a plug, battery or cable should always be recycled as a minimum.”

Louise Grantham, Chief Executive at REPIC Ltd, added: “We're keen to make consumers aware that the real value is keeping small electricals in circulation for longer - either through passing them on, selling them and/or recycling them at the end of their useful life.

“Decluttering enables precious material to be recovered and reused in the manufacturing of new products and collectively makes a big difference to our environment by reducing the demand for new raw materials.”