What is FastTech?

Small electricals that are cheap to buy and easy to throw away are becoming the fastest growing e-waste stream. Here’s why we need to put the brakes on FastTech going to landfill.

various small electrical items on a pink background

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The quick guide to FastTech

‘FastTech’ refers to everyday small electricals – from headphones to cables, decorative lights to mini fans and even single-use vapes. These items are cheap and often have a short lifespan. This means they may be seen as ‘disposable’ even when they’re not designed to be. It’s Fast Fashion for the world of technology and, like the clothing industry, it has huge environmental and social impacts.

What’s the problem with FastTech?

The hard reality of easy-come easy-go electricals

a pale skinned hand holding a white cable above an open bin

FastTech is our fastest-growing electrical waste

From mini-fans, disposable vapes and USB sticks to novelty chargers, decorative lights and handheld vacuum cleaners – we buy 16 items of FastTech in the UK every second, and bin 90% of those gadgets in the blink of an eye.

three molten precious metals in misshapen lumps

Each piece of FastTech binned is resources wasted

All electricals, even small inexpensive items such as cables, contain precious materials – and if we bin them they’re lost forever. That’s a big challenge for the environment and our economy.

a light skinned hand holding a plug in the air, dark skinned hand holding a battery up in the air a light skinned hand holding a mass of cables up in the air all on a pink background

FastTech is just the tip of a (very big) iceberg

An astonishing 471 million pieces of FastTech end up in UK landfill each year. They’re part of over 100,000 tonnes of e-waste we throw away annually, and we still have a staggering 880 million gadgets gathering dust at home.

a pale skinned woman in a pink hoodie holding a cloth bag full of electrical items

But we’re starting to turn the tide

Like anything else with a plug, battery or cable, FastTech can be recycled. And more and more people are discovering how easy it is to donate or recycle theirs. Find your nearest drop-off point using our handy locator.

Recycling locator

How to slow the FastTech tide

Once you’ve decided whether to recycle or pass on your unwanted tech, preparing your electricals is as easy as ABC

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Does your unwanted tech contain batteries or bulbs? Remove these before recycling. It’s your responsibility to remove personal data from smart devices and computers, so remember to take out memory cards and delete your data.

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Find a bag that you can use to store all your old electricals until you can go to the recycling centre – or until collection day, if you have one.

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Check our easy recycling locator to find your nearest repair, reuse or recycling point. Some councils collect directly from your home.

Electrical recycling locator
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The world inside your tech

Whether it’s disposable vapes or swanky noise-cancelling headphones – inside all electrical devices are valuable, unseen materials that make them tick.

Now eye-popping 3D scans by visual tech pioneers Lumafield reveal the treasure in our gadgets: copper, lithium, stainless steel, gold and more. By recycling anything with a plug, battery or cable we can recover these materials and turn them into new products – from bicycles to life-saving medical equipment.