Over two thirds of Brits don’t know how to recycle tech items

recycle tech
As the August bank holiday approaches, Currys PC World is asking Brits to think before they bin, as the nation gets set for a bank holiday weekend clear out.

New research from the electricals retailer highlights the UK’s e-waste issue and growing customer confusion around what to do with old and broken tech items. It reveals that over half of Brits (54%) are considering a clear out this bank holiday, yet 68% don’t know what, where and how to recycle their tech items. Which could explain why the UK is one of the worst e-waste offenders in Europe.

Currently, the UK has a yearly 1.45 million tonnes e-waste problem, which is compounded by 4.2 million UK households unnecessarily dumping electrical items in their household bin, sending them to landfill rather than recycling, rehoming or repairing them. It’s a statistic that is only set to increase as many households currently hoard tech items that they don’t know how to dispose of, with mobile phones and headphones being among the worst offenders.

Broken small tech items most likely to be lying around in UK homes

Rank Item %
1. Mobile phones 40%
2. Headphones 30%
3. Laptops 24%
4. Kettles 15%
5. Toasters 11%
6. Blenders 8%

The company’s newly released research found that almost a third of Brits (32%) are slinging unwanted yet working small appliances in the bin, rather than recycling them, leaving many to go to waste. In 2020, 43% of all e-waste collected by UK retailers was collected by Currys PC World, and the retailer has recycled over 800,000 tonnes of tech since 2007, it claims.

Almost a quarter (24%) of Brits keep unwanted and working small appliances/tech items because they don’t know where to dispose of them. The city hoarding the most items due to a lack of awareness is London, as 32% of those in the capital struggle with where and how to get rid of their tech.

Says Matt Manning, Currys PC World’s Group Carbon and Environment Manager:

 “Our research shows that the nation is a little confused about how to recycle their unwanted tech. The UK being one of the top e-waste offenders in Europe and as the UK’s largest retail tech recycler, Currys PC World is on a mission to help the nation’s households do the right thing. Research has shown that there are 527 million hoarded items in homes across the UK, and with the bank holiday often being a time when the nation ‘sorts’ and ‘tidies’, we are keen to help people understand the best, and most sustainable ways to rid themselves of unwanted small tech items.”

This August bank holiday, Currys PC World is encouraging consumers to head into their local store to drop off unwanted small tech, promising that every item will be assessed as part of its recycle, repair and rehome process. The Currys PC World data also found that over two thirds (67%) of the UK would be more willing to recycle their tech if they knew it was going to a good cause. Some of the tech that is given to Currys PC World as part of its take back service goes on to enjoy a second life with families in need, as part of the retailer’s ongoing relationship with Reuse Network. 

Through the Reuse Network, Currys PC World supplies around 14,265 white goods items to charities and social housing every year. This is just one example of how technology that is saved rather than slung can be put to good use. The Reuse Network works across the electricals sectors to make this vision a reality, working with members to give the support, information, connections and goods they need to reach vulnerable people in need in their local communities.

Chris Price