UK households ‘hoarding’ 20.7m working IT products

There are 20.7 million unused but working IT products “hoarded” in UK homes, research shows, combined worth a possible £5.63 billion.

The WEEE compliance fee is an alternative mechanism used by compliance schemes and obligated business if they have insufficient recycling evidence to meet collection targets (picture: Shutterstock)

Ahead of International E-Waste Day on 14 October, compliance scheme REPIC commissioned market research agency Mustard to investigate the value of the unused small electricals lurking in people’s homes.

REPIC has also joined forces with the Recycle Your Electricals consumer campaign to establish pop-up collection points to help people to keep their unwanted and working small electrical devices in circulation for longer.

Mustard surveyed 3,0001 householders weighted to nationally representative figures of age, gender and region from 7-29 July.

The survey showed UK households are currently holding on to 11.7 million laptops and 9.17 million tablets which could be sold or recycled.

There are also 18.5 million games consoles and 6.5 million computers, the research showed.

The average UK household could sell this tech and raise £200 of “much-needed” cash during “these economically challenging times”, the researchers said.

However, only a third of households are confident they know how to recycle their electricals, the survey showed, while the same number (33%) have at least one electrical device in their home that does not work and could be recycled.


Scott Butler is executive director of Material Focus, the not-for-profit organisation funded by the waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) compliance fee which is behind Recycle Your Electricals. He said the research had “shown again what we already know”.

“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.

International E-Waste Day

REPIC and Recycle Your Electricals have partnered ahead of International E-Waste Day to deliver a “consistent voice and branded message” to consumers about responsibly recycling their end-of-life electricals.

An example of a REPIC poster with Recycle Your Electricals branding

To mark the day, REPIC has worked with a managing agent to establish 10 pop-up collection points for small electricals, at which it will use Recycle Your Electricals’s branding.

International E-Waste Day will see consumer collection points at Metrocentre in Gateshead, the BH2 leisure complex in Bournemouth, the Victoria Centre in Nottingham and the Castle Leisure Centre in Bury. There will also be employee “bring your e-waste to work” collection points across Yorkshire, Birmingham and the North West.

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.

“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.”

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