Data security concerns ‘hampering’ WEEE recycling

Concerns over data security are preventing some consumers from recycling their broken and unused electrical products, according to a survey by the WEEE producer compliance scheme Repic.

The survey, conducted in September 2017, asked over 1,100 people for their habits in disposing of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and potential barriers to recycling.

Concerns over data security have lead some consumers to hold onto their old electronic devices, rather than give them up for recycling, a survey suggests

Results suggested that 69% of people had concerns about their personal data security being breached, with up to a third suggesting that they would be more likely to keep hold of old electrical items as a consequence.

Breaking the responses down into different age groups, over three quarters (76%) of 16-29 year olds are most worried about the security of their private information Repic claimed, whilst only 59% of people aged 60 and over voiced it as a concern.

Across the age groups, 30-44 year olds, were most likely to never or not always delete their personal data from electronic devices before disposal.


Commenting on the findings, Mark Burrows-Smith, chief executive of Repic, said: “Data can be deleted, devices cannot. These results are really telling in what drives people’s recycling behaviours and the need for increased education around how householders remove personal data before disposal.

“The Internet of Things means that connectivity is the norm and with more and more people synching their personal data to electronic devices, it is clear that there is a real risk that old or unused electricals are being stockpiled due to fear and mis-education.”

Mark Burrows-Smith

However, according to Repic, the data does suggest that there is an improving awareness of WEEE recycling options, with around 21% of respondents claiming that they did not know where to recycle their unused electricals, compared to 31% in 2016.

More people than ever are aware their devices can be recycled, with just 17% unaware compared to 28% in 2016, Repic claimed.


The survey also suggests a move by the general public to donate, sell or pass on electricals that are still in good working order – which Repic claimed indicates an increased awareness of the need to minimise waste among members of the public.

Respondents are most likely to give electronics and gadgets to a friend or family member (39%), sell them online (34%) or take them to a charity shop (31%).

Mr Burrows-Smith added: “Despite the barriers to recycling, people in the UK are aware of the consequences and cite reducing waste sent to landfill as the key driver for achieving their recycling responsibilities.

“Overall the results paint an optimistic picture that attitudes and behaviours are moving in the right direction – yet, as always, it is clear from these findings and the issues the WEEE industry is facing, that we must adapt to changing consumer behaviours to ensure this continues on the right trajectory.”

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