UK electrical waste mountain growing

16th July 2020 | Recycling

UK households and businesses produce 1.45 million tonnes of electrical waste each year, research shows. The e-waste research organisation Material Focus calculates that at least 500,000 tonnes of the waste were thrown away, stolen or hoarded. Its latest study suggests un-recycled household electricals cost the UK over £370m a year in lost materials like gold, copper, aluminium and steel.

This is important because mining the metals leads to pollution. It also harms wildlife and fuels climate change.

Electrical Waste

The report says many people hang on to old laptops and phones because the hold photos or sensitive data. It suggests on answer it to ask mobile phone shops to transfer data and return old phones to factory settings in front of you. Reputable repair shops could also wipe data for you – at a price. Some charity shops will also take e-waste such as phones.

There will be another option from January, when a new rule means you’ll be able to hand back to any major shop and aged kettle, say, or toaster when you buy a new one. Some stores offer this already. The increase in electrical waste has been relentless as the population has grown and new consumer electronics reach the market. Many of the new purchases are not replacements for existing kit, but innovative consumer goods that weren’t available previously, such as smart speakers.

Global e-waste in 2020

  • 37% – Small equipment – irons, kettles, toasters, vacuum cleaners et
  • 22% – Large equipment – freezers, fridges, washing machines and dryers, microwaves, cookers etc
  • 17% – Temperature exchange equipment – heaters, air conditioning systems, thermostats etc
  • 14% – Screens – TV’s PC screens etc
  • 9% – Small IT – mobile phones, laptops
  • 1% – Lamps

The academic lead for the study was Alison Stowell at Lancaster University. She told BBC News, “These figures on electrical waste are quite enormous. When we consume things, we don’t tend to think about how much material is in them or how valuable they could be if they are put back into the production and supply chain through recycling.”

More information available on the website below