Material Focus publishes its first annual review

Material Focus, the organisation behind the Recycle Your Electricals campaign, has released its first annual review. It highlights the range of achievements accomplished during its first year, 2020.

Media release, 10 June 2021

Electrical waste is now one of the fastest growing waste streams in the UK and in the world, and we are throwing away some of the most precious materials on the planet. In a concerted effort to tackle this Material Focus, the independent not-for-profit, was launched with the goal to stop the nation throwing away or hoarding their old small electricals. In May 2020 Material Focus launched the public-facing Recycle Your Electricals campaign to encourage, and make it easier for, UK households to reuse and recycle their unwanted electricals rather than throwing them away or hoarding them. 

“Everything we’re doing, our research, investment and our campaign, is aimed at making it easier to recycle your electricals. We are working with a range of partners to deliver our work, and are keen to work with more including businesses and local authorities and re-use organisations. The sooner we get our message, “Recycle your electricals”, to UK householders, the sooner we can stop precious materials from unwanted electricals being lost forever,” said Scott Butler, Executive Director of Material Focus.

During 2020 Material Focus achieved the following:  

  • Funded nine technical research projects which examined the barriers to reusing and recycling electricals. Key research findings included: 
    • 155,000 tonnes of waste electricals are thrown away in general household waste each year.
    • 527 million unwanted electrical items are hoarded in UK homes.
    • Over 50% of people who bin their old electricals claim they do so because they don’t know where or how to recycle them. 
  • Invested in 18 local authority and re-use organisations, giving 2 million more people the ability to recycle and donate their electricals more easily.
  • £2.5 million was given in Covid-19 support packages to help UK electrical recycling facilities and vital reuse organisations stay open during lockdown. As a result over 340,000 items were recycled and refurbished. 

Material Focus worked collaboratively with a number of partners to amplify the message to as many households across the UK as possible. These partners include local authorities, businesses, re-use organisations, waste and recycling companies, government and politicians, and schools. 

  • A new website with a Recycling Locator at its heart was created, which offers information on 2,500 reuse and recycling points. The website received over 120,000 visits in just eight months.
  • Hypnocat, the recycling-obsessed messenger, was launched to hypnotise the nation into recycling their electricals. He appeared in paid advertising in 33 areas across the UK, leading to a 100% uplift in recycling rates in one of those areas.
  • Utilising research, and working with a range of experts and celebrities, to deliver the campaign message to the media including: model and environmentalist, Lily Cole; BBC Moneybox and personal finance expert, Paul Lewis; de-cluttering queen, Nicola Lewis; and former Blue Peter presenter, Konnie Huq.  The PR campaign led to over 230 pieces of media coverage including in the BBC and Forbes.

Material Focus’s 2020 annual review shows that the campaign is beginning to change behaviour, yet there is still a lot more work to be done to achieve mass awareness. The campaign will continue until at least 2024. 

Note to Editors

For further information please contact Kate Hinton; mobile 07714708416.

Material Focus is an independent not-for-profit organisation whose goal is to stop the nation throwing away or hoarding their old small electricals. It has launched the new UK-wide Recycle Your Electricals campaign. The campaign is revealing the value hidden in electricals and is making it easier for us all to recycle and reuse the small electricals we no longer need by providing more recycling points as well as providing practical information on how households can recycle.

The campaign is funded by producers of electrical appliances. The UK Government sets annual targets for the recycling of all waste electricals, including small electricals. If producers of electrical appliances don’t meet this target, then they contribute towards a fund, which pays for a range of activities including communications, behaviour change activities, increasing recycling collection points and options and technical research. Ultimately the aim is to support actions that will help the UK increase the levels of reuse and recycling of waste electricals.

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