e-waste. The problem with throwing away old electricals

Discarded electricals are one of the fastest-growing sources of waste in the world – and the UK.

Magenta cat 'Hypnocat' resting on a dustbin with electrical items floating around his head in a blue spiral

Electrical recycling near me

What are the problems with electrical waste?

We discard 155,000 tonnes of electricals every year, instead of reusing or recycling them. That creates e-waste – and that poses a major threat to the environment and to human health.

A photo of electronics at a landfill site


If old electricals go to landfill, or are flytipped instead of being recycled, valuable resources are lost forever. That’s a big problem.

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Discarded or hoarded household electricals cost the UK economy £370 million per year of lost valuable raw materials such as gold, copper, aluminium and steel.

A photo of mobile phones to be recycled

Financial value

The average UK household is hiding away 20 unwanted electricals. If we passed these on to charities they could make a big difference to people’s lives.

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Climate change

Producing electricals creates carbon emissions. Recycling our old electricals would cut as much CO2 as taking 1.3 million cars off the road.

earphones being dropped in bin


Is ‘FastTech’ the new Fast Fashion?

‘FastTech’ describes cheap, everyday electricals that often have a short lifespan – meaning they may be seen as disposable even when they’re not.

Almost half a billion FastTech items were thrown away last year, and a shocking 90% of them were discarded soon after being bought. From fairy lights and fans, to handheld vacuums and single-use vapes – inside every one of those products are valuable materials that could have been recovered and reused.

What can we all do to solve the problems with electrical waste?

All your old electrical items with a plug, battery or cable can be recycled – and many can be repaired or reused.

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Pass it on

If you don’t want it, pass it on. Charities can raise vital funds by selling your old electricals or giving them to low-income households.

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Fix it

Many organisations can repair and refurbish your small electricals. Ask the original manufacturer for a list of their authorised repair networks.

A photo of old electrical items ready for recycling

Recycle it

A massive 75% of the materials in old electricals can be recycled and turned into anything from life-saving equipment to children’s playgrounds.

Find out how you can get involved

Electrical waste is a massive problem, so we need to work together to solve it. Find out what you can do.

Find your nearest recycling point