Top tips for recycling, selling and donating old electricals at university

14th June 2024

Written by Will Treharne

We’ve all been there… It’s the end of the university year and you suddenly realise you have more stuff to pack up! From that upgraded phone and the blender that broke to the unused lamp sat under your bed, figuring out what to do with these items can be daunting. 

Many students we have spoken to aren’t sure what, how or where to recycle, sell or donate their old electricals.

That’s why we’ve created some top tips for what to do with your old electricals at university – whether you’re moving out at the end of term or just looking to declutter! 

5 benefits of reusing and recycling your old electricals

  1. Make money from your old electricals
    If your electricals are still in good working condition then selling them is always a great option to make some extra cash. Our research shows that you could make over £1,000 from selling your old electricals online, depending on what you own and their condition. Check out our blog for tips on how to start selling your electricals online. Many companies will also trade in your old phone, laptop, headphones and other electricals for cash or money off your next purchase. Currys’ ‘Cash For Trash’ scheme offers at least £5 off your next purchase for any old tech items you recycle in store. Read our blog on how to make money on your old electricals for more information.

  2. Tidy space, tidy mind!
    Freeing up your space by sorting out your old electricals make your home or workspace feel more spacious and organised. A clutter-free environment is also proven to reduce stress levels and promote a sense of calm – perfect during exam season!

  3. Recycling is good for the planet
    We know students are passionate about the environment, and recycling your electricals is a quick and easy way to do your bit for the planet. Recycling unwanted electricals means valuable materials like gold, silver and copper get a new lease of life. If we recycled all our old electricals, we could cut as much CO2 as taking 3.8 million cars off the road! 
  1. Help someone in need by donating old electricals
    With ongoing coursework, exams (or having some much-deserved fun!) you may feel not have time to sell your electricals. Donating your working electricals is an easy way to pass on your old electricals – and means someone else can use it! A lot of charity shops will be happy to take your working electricals and rehome them with someone who needs them. Find out more about donating your electricals here.
  1. Save materials and money by repairing 
    More and more students want to fix their broken electricals before buying new items. Repairing old electricals not only has great environmental benefits, but can save you money too. Take a look at our repair page for more information on how and where you can repair your broken electricals – or learn how to do it yourself!

Recycling at university: getting started

  1. Remember – anything with a plug, battery or cable can be recycled!
    Electric toothbrushes, laptops, lamps, computer keyboards, toasters and anything else with a plug, battery or cable contain precious materials that can be reused and recycled into new things – like children’s playgrounds and lifesaving medical equipment. So keep this in mind whenever you’re clearing out your old gadgets! Find out more about what can be recycled if you are still unsure.

  2. Keep organised with a bag or box 
    To keep you organised throughout the year, keep a box or bag in your room or the house and use it for old batteries, cables, broken bulbs, and other unwanted electricals. Once the bag is full you can take them all at once to a recycling point – saving you multiple trips throughout the year! Plenty of retailers will take back old electricals too, if you’re popping into town and want to empty that bag. Your future self will thank you!

  3. Simplify the stress 
    Clearing out or packing up at the end of uni can be overwhelming. A way to make the job less stressful could be sorting your old electricals into piles: ‘Repair’ for broken electricals that could be salvaged; ‘Donate’ or ‘Sell’ for electricals that are still in good working condition and could be sold online or go to another home; ‘Recycle’ for those that are unrepairable and can be recycled into something new; and ‘Keep’ for those working electricals you don’t want to let go of! Watch Konnie Huq and Nicola Lewis’ video for inspiration.  

  4. Prepare your electricals before passing them on
    Check if your electricals are ready to be passed on before they are sold, traded in, donated or recycled. Do your old electricals contain batteries that can be removed safely? If so, make sure you recycle them at a designated battery recycling point as binned batteries can spark serious and dangerous fires. If not, recycle the whole electrical at your local electrical recycling point. Take out memory and SIM cards, and remember to delete any personal data from smart devices – read our FAQs for more information on how to do this. 
  1. Find your local repair, donation and recycling drop-off points
    So you’ve gathered up your old and unwanted electricals… but what next? Simply pop in your postcode into our recycling locator along with the items you have to repair, donate or recycle, and it will show you all of your local recycling centres, retailers, community bring banks and other drop-off points. There may even be a recycling point in your university! Some recycling centres will only allow cars inside. If you don’t own a car, you can easily recycle your old electricals for free at your local electrical retailer under the Retailer Take-back scheme. Some retailers will recycle on a like-for-like basis; other retailers like Curry’s, B&Q and John Lewis will take back any electricals for recycling, even if you’re not buying new.

There are plenty of ways to reuse or recycle your old, unwanted electricals at university. By following these simple tips you could make some extra cash, help someone in need or save precious materials from being lost forever. 

Frequently asked questions
Find your nearest reuse and recycling point