Do retailers offer appliance recycling?

Question: Do retailers offer appliance recycling?

The Electrical Retailer Take-back rules – and how can they help you recycle your electricals.

The new Electrical Retailer Take-back rules mean recycling appliances has just got easier. Now, when you buy a new electrical product from any one of thousands of shops across the UK, the store will take back your old appliance on a like-for-like basis. And they will do so whether or not you bought your old product from that shop. The rules, which cover all types of electricals, came into effect in the UK on 1 January 2021. 

What the Electrical Retailer Take-back rules mean for you: easier appliance recycling

Next time you go into an electrical store, expect to see a sign explain that:

  • Retailers will recycle your old appliance for free when you’re buying a new one. For the majority of retailers this will be on a ‘like-for-like basis’. For example, if you buy a charger from your local electrical retailer, then you can hand in your old one for recycling.
  • All you need to do is bring in your old electrical item within 28 days, show the receipt for its replacement – and the retailer will do the rest.

It’s estimated that there will be an additional 10,000 drop-off locations for your old electricals across the UK following the new rules.

Will all shops take back any old appliances for recycling?

Not all. But at the very least, the rules mean that many more retailers than before will take back old electricals. All large electrical and electronic sellers with any significant retail space will take your old gear in-store on a like-for-like basis. So remember to take your old, broken kettle with you when you go to buy a new one – and hand it in for recycling.

Some electrical and electronic retailers will go over and above these basic requirements. Currys PC World, for example, already takes in any unwanted electricals at any store, regardless of whether you are buying a new electrical item there, and have been doing for many years.

Of course, if you’re making a special journey to buy something new, it’s worth checking the specific store’s policy on appliance recycling and taking back items before you go.

Do the rules cover recycling of bulky appliances

Yes they do. If you have bulky household appliances to recycle, such as a fridge or washing machine, bear in mind that brands with multiple stores selling a range of different products will take larger goods at specific locations only. So check with the store before you load up the car with your unwanted appliances.

Are Amazon and other online retailers part of the retailer take-back rules?

Currently, online retailers don’t have to provide the take-back service. But we don’t have long to wait. Retailers which operate solely online will need to have systems in place by 2022. 

Do the retailer take-back rules replace other recycling services?

No. This is an additional service. You can still recycle your waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) through local council services such as household waste recycling centres. Some people will also have community drop-off points, or council collections from their door, along with other recycling materials. 

But the retailer take-back scheme means that many electrical retailers will for the first time take back your old products in store. It’s all about making it easier to recycle your electrical appliances. 

Will the take-back rules really work?

In-store collection schemes work well in other EU countries. So thousands of extra drop-off points in the UK should be a big boost for all of us wanting to recycle our old electricals. Research by Material Focus shows that two-thirds of us want to recycle more of our electricals but don’t always know how or where. So we’re hoping this will be a step in the right direction for us all.

What electronic and electrical items can I recycle?

Anything with a plug, battery or cable can be recycled or reused. The materials recovered from recycled electricals can be remanufactured into a range of products from children’s playgrounds to life-saving medical equipment. Donating your tech, meanwhile, can help keep low-income families connected or provided with essential appliances at home.

Why should I recycle my electronics and electrical items?

Recycling and reusing unwanted electricals can help the economy and improve lives. Plus, electrical equipment contains materials which can be dangerous to the environment and harmful to human health if not disposed of correctly. 

Yet the average household in the UK currently throws away 20 electrical items every year, and millions of gadgets are gathering dust unused and unwanted in cupboards and garages across the country. Electrical and electronic equipment is the fastest-growing waste stream in the UK and across the world.

So next time you’re in the market for anything with a plug, battery or cable, remember the retailer take-back scheme. It’s here to help you recycle your electricals.

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