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Recycle Now sparks festive campaign for recycling old electricals

With a quarter of us planning to buy electrical or electronic goods as presents this Christmas, many old items will be gathering dust in our cupboards and cluttering up our houses.

New research by Recycle Now reveals that, on average, we have around three old, broken or unwanted small electrical goods stored around the home. There’s huge potential to recycle these items into new products, rather than throw them away, and more than two-thirds of us say we would find it useful to have more information on what to do with unwanted electricals.

We tend to recycle large electrical items like washing machines when buying replacements, but when it comes to smaller items, like kettles, cameras and mobile phones, a third of us say we simply throw them away.

154 million small electrical products were bought in the UK in the last year alone, equating to around 551,0002a tonnes in total or 22kgs per household. However, in the same period only 56,000 tonnes of small electrical items were recycled. This weight, 22kgs, is equivalent to 188 mobile phones or 22 hair-dryers. There are a large number of companies in the UK with the capacity and capability to process this readily-recyclable and valuable type of waste for which there are still viable market outlets.

That’s why high street stores have joined forces with local authorities to make it easier to recycle our old electrical goods. All retailers support recycling facilities – some provide funding for local authority facilities; others take back electricals in their stores.

There are two easy ways to avoid house clutter and get rid of unwanted items without throwing them away this Christmas:

  • You can drop them at your local recycling centre – go to to find out your nearest drop-off point. All local authorities across the UK have dedicated facilities for collecting waste electrical goods; these facilities have been financially supported by many retailers.
  • A few retailers will take back your old electrical item in store, for example, when you purchase a new item from them, however not all shops do this. Go to to check whether your retailer has chosen to take back electrical waste in their store or chosen to fund the local authority scheme.

Laura Underwood, from Recycle Now, said: “As Christmas shoppers hit the high streets in search of this year’s hot gadget gifts for loved ones, it’s the ideal time to think about recycling old electricals lying about the house to make room for the new ones. If every household returned just one item for recycling, we could reprocess more than 24,500 tonnes of unwanted small electricals into new goods.”

Old or broken electricals can be easily transformed and put to new uses; for example, a typical iron contains enough steel to make 13 food cans. Plastic recycled from small household appliances such as kettles or irons can potentially be re-used in new goods, for example games consoles or hair-dryers.