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Minister Pow backs calls for UK households to recycle their old electricals

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An image of various items of electrical waste including multi-coloured wires and circuit boards.
A new initiative has been launched to clamp down on old electricals being thrown away, which could save the economy £370 million

Materials Recycling World is running a story today highlighting how UK households are hoarding 527 million small old electricals, an average of 20 per household, and throwing away 155,000 tonnes of these items every year. This is contributing to one of the fastest growing waste streams in the nation and in the world, estimated to cost the UK economy over £370 million of lost valuable raw materials such as gold, copper, aluminium and steel.

New research “Hidden Treasures” conducted by the Material Focus, revealed UK householders could have made £17 billion  from second hand re-sale value of small old electricals. Additionally, if all small old electricals that are currently hoarded in people’s homes or thrown away in general household rubbish each year were recycled, 2.8 million tonnes of CO2 emissions could be saved, the equivalent of taking 1.3 million cars off the road.

In a concerted effort to tackle this, Material Focus has recently launched the Recycle Your Electricals campaign, a new nationwide campaign calling on households to stop throwing away and hoarding their unwanted small old electricals – and start reusing and recycling them.

Speaking on the new initiative, Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said:

With so many millions of small electricals not being correctly recycled or reused in the UK, we urgently need to recognise that raw materials are finite and every electrical item thrown in the bin or stashed in a draw is a waste of valuable resources.

I am very pleased to be supporting this new campaign and will be looking around my home for unwanted electrical items which I can bag up and take to the local recycling centre. It’s important to hold on to items and not throw them in the bin if your local recycling centre has not yet re-opened.

More broadly the government is committed to moving to a more circular economy, and we will be reviewing the regulations on electrical items to help drive up recycling, encourage better eco-design so products last longer and ensure manufacturers and retailers take more responsibility for waste electricals.

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  1. Comment by Jane Sale posted on

    Recycling small electricals initiative is brilliant - where do we take them HR8? Would welcome incentive for skilled workers to repair items too, happy to pay for repair, manufacturers should supply spare parts and reduce inbuilt obsolescence.

  2. Comment by William Hughes-Games posted on

    Used electricals are largely plastic these days plus many valuable metals. The ultimate recycling when there is not a more valuable system is pyrolysis. The plastic becomes cooking gas, petrol, diesel and air craft fuel. The ash is sent to a refinery to separate out the metals from each other. Better yet pyrolysis will also take care of used vehicle tires, plastic, clean or dirty, wood waste and a host of other waste streams.

  3. Comment by Suzi Stinchcombe posted on

    If we were allowed to put electricals into the fortnightly recycling bin this would help a lot, but currently we have to go to a HWRC ourselves; for small items people just don't see it as worth it.

    As with everything to do with recycling; you have to make it as easy for people to do otherwise they won't do it.