UK households bought nearly 40 million electricals from Black Friday to Christmas

And we abandoned 4.2 million old electricals. It’s time for Give-Back January.

Media release, 10 January 2022

Research conducted by Recycle Your Electricals has revealed that nearly 40% of UK adults bought nearly 40 million items of household tech from Black Friday to Christmas, resulting in 4.2 million unwanted electricals being abandoned. Some 2.2 million of these abandoned electricals are hoarded away, with 2 million of them thrown in the bin. If we donated these items to those in need, the value would be £136 million.

Konnie Huq, who launched the campaign by stepping into the Give-Back January Snow Globe with her two sons in December 2021, was pictured donating her old household electricals to a local charity. The Give-Back January campaign is the antidote to the spending bonanza of the festivities, highlighting the need to donate or recycle unwanted electricals. 

Konnie’s box of charity donations may have included some of the millions of items we have replaced since 26 November, aka Black Friday. 

The most popular items bought over the festive period were:

  1. Headphones and earphones: 5.7 million
  2. Christmas lights: 5.5 million
  3. Smart phones: 5 million
  4. Kettles: 4.7 million
  5. Cables and chargers: 4.3 million
  6. Laptops: 4.3 million
  7. Hair straighteners: 4.2 million
  8. Speakers and smart speakers: 4 million
  9. E-cigarettes / vapes: 4 million
  10. Smart watches: 3.7 million
  11. Electric toothbrushes: 3.7 million
  12. Hair dryers: 3.4 million
  13. Tablets: 2.9 million
  14. Electric shavers: 2.3 million
  15. Kitchen blenders: 2.3 million
  16. Games consoles: 2.2 million

Awareness of environmental issues has changed our attitudes towards what we plan to buy for Christmas:

  • 12.5 million people in the UK said that the COP26 climate talks made them think about what they will buy; 
  • this number was highest in London and the West Midlands, where 37% said COP26 made them think differently about what they would buy, followed by 35% in Yorkshire & The Humber, compared to 30% nationally;
  • COP26 news was followed mostly by people in London (56%), the West Midlands (55%) and Scotland  (50%), compared to 46% nationally. 

Throughout January, Konnie Huq, alongside home organising guru, Nicola Lewis, aka This Girl Can Organise, are encouraging everyone in the UK to get involved in Give-Back January. Instead of hoarding our old electricals at home, or throwing them in the bin to end up in landfill, working items should be donated to those in need. Anything that is broken and can’t be fixed must be recycled because anything with a plug, cable or battery can be recycled.

Konnie Huq said of the campaign: “We all love Christmas and the joy of buying gifts for one another. However, if we are going to buy something, we need to think about the unwanted items that are left behind. The Recycle Your Electricals Give-Back January campaign is so important; it shows us that there is value in our waste electricals. There are so many people that would really appreciate something being donated to them, and if something is really broken then always recycle it.”  

Nicola Lewis added: “January is the perfect time to get organised and have a clear-out. There are 2.2 million old electricals hoarded as a result of Black Friday and Christmas alone. Everyone can get involved with Give-Back January this year. It’s simple: grab a bag, collect up your old electricals and search up your nearest donation or recycling centre by going to the Recycle Your Electricals website!”

Scott Butler, Executive Director of Material Focus, the organisation behind the Recycle Your Electricals campaign, said: “Give-Back January is the perfect antidote to our pre-Christmas spending and we are calling on UK households to do something useful with their old unwanted electricals. Unwanted electricals this Christmas have a donation value of £136 million. With financial difficulties affecting many of us these electricals really should never go to waste.”

Anyone wishing to organise their own Give-Back January can find their nearest recycling or donation points via an easy-to-use postcode tracker which can be found on www.recycleyourelectricals.org.uk. Some neighbourhoods also have a kerbside collection service.

About the research

Research was conducted by Opinium from 19 to 23 November 2021. Research was carried out among a sample of 2,001 UK adults aged 18+ and has been weighted to nationally representative criteria.

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