UK Households Hoarding £5.5bn of Unused Tech Devices

A recent survey has found that UK households are sitting on around 20 million unused IT products, which are still in full working order. Tech equipment, including laptops, games consoles, and laptops, are languishing untouched in homes throughout the land, according to a recent report in Let’s Recycle magazine.

The survey was commissioned by the compliance schemes operator REPIC to mark International E-waste Day (14th October), which also worked with the Recycle Your Electricals campaign to raise awareness of the issue of e-waste.

Householders are encouraged to recycle or sell their unused items to keep them in circulation, rather than hang onto them, which drives up demand for new products. Creating new tech products uses up the earth’s finite resources of rare elements, and contributes to harmful greenhouse gas emissions during production and transport.

The survey revealed that the average household has at least £200 of tech products which could be sold to raise cash. From a survey of 3,000 households, weighted to represent the UK population, it is estimated that There are around 11.7 million laptops, 18.5 games consoles, 9.17 million tablets, and 6.5 million computers which are lurking in dusty corners.

Scott Butler, who works for a not-for-profit e-waste recycling organisation, commented: “There is a huge amount of value in a household’s unwanted electricals, whether sold so that they can be reused, donated to help those in need or recycled so that the valuable materials inside our devices can be recovered and made into something new,”

He added. “Electricals and tech are valuable and this value will be lost forever if they are thrown away.”

E-waste is a growing global problem, as tech companies advance at record rates to meet growing consumer demand for products. Many tech products become quickly obsolete as the software can become outdated within a couple of years. It is feared that worldwide, rates of e-waste could double to 100 million tonnes within 30 years.

Louise Grantham, REPIC’s chief executive, said: “In an ideal world, every unwanted hair care product, toaster, food blender and kettle would either be used again if it has not reached the end of its useful life or given a new lease of life through an official recycling system.”

She added: “In the majority of cases, the precious materials recovered from these end-of-life appliances can be redesigned into new goods, while reducing the need to mine for virgin materials.”

“The stark reality is that many small electricals end up hoarded away in our homes, out of sight and mind and their precious materials lost or worse still, discarded in the household’s bins and ending up in landfill.”

The WEEE forum estimates that there are 16 billion mobile phones in circulation, and up to a third of them will be discarded by the end of the year. It is calling for a public campaign to raise awareness on how to recycle WEEE, and the importance of not hoarding unused or broken electrical items at home.


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