4.2 million old electricals ‘abandoned’ in UK over Christmas

Research conducted by Recycle Your Electricals has revealed that nearly 40% of UK adults bought nearly 40 million items of household tech from Black Friday to Christmas, resulting in 4.2 million unwanted electricals being ‘abandoned’.

Some 2.2 million of these abandoned electricals are hoarded away, according to the research, with 2 million of them thrown in the bin. If we donated these items to those in need, the value would be £136 million, it says.

The research comes at the launch of the Give-Back January campaign, which as been called the ‘antidote to the spending bonanza of the festivities’, with an aim of highlighting the need to donate or recycle unwanted electricals.

Awareness of environmental issues has changed our attitudes towards what we plan to buy for Christmas, according to the survey, with 12.5 million people in the UK saying that the COP26 climate talks made them think about what they will buy.

Unwanted electricals this Christmas have a donation value of £136 million. With financial difficulties affecting many of us these electricals really should never go to waste

This number was highest in London and the West Midlands, where 37% said COP26 made them ‘think differently’ about what they would buy, followed by 35% in Yorkshire & The Humber, compared to 30% nationally;

COP26 news was followed mostly by people in London (56%), the West Midlands (55%) and Scotland  (50%), compared to 46% nationally.

Throughout January people are being encouraged to get involved in Give-Back January. Instead of hoarding old electricals at home, or throwing them in the bin to end up in landfill, working items should be donated to those in need. Anything that is broken and can’t be fixed must be recycled because anything with a plug, cable or battery can be recycled.

Scott Butler, Executive Director of Material Focus, the organisation behind the Recycle Your Electricals campaign, said: “Give-Back January is the perfect antidote to our pre-Christmas spending and we are calling on UK households to do something useful with their old unwanted electricals.

“Unwanted electricals this Christmas have a donation value of £136 million. With financial difficulties affecting many of us these electricals really should never go to waste.”

Anyone wishing to organise their own Give-Back January can find their nearest recycling or donation points via an easy-to-use postcode tracker which can be found on www.recycleyourelectricals.org.uk. Some neighbourhoods also have a kerbside collection service.

Research was conducted by Opinium from 19 to 23 November 2021. Research was carried out among a sample of 2,001 UK adults aged 18+ and has been weighted to nationally representative criteria.

The most popular items bought over the festive period

  1. Headphones and earphones: 5.7 million
  2. Christmas lights: 5.5 million
  3. Smart phones: 5 million
  4. Kettles: 4.7 million
  5. Cables and chargers: 4.3 million
  6. Laptops: 4.3 million
  7. Hair straighteners: 4.2 million
  8. Speakers and smart speakers: 4 million
  9. E-cigarettes / vapes: 4 million
  10. Smart watches: 3.7 million
  11. Electric toothbrushes: 3.7 million
  12. Hair dryers: 3.4 million
  13. Tablets: 2.9 million
  14. Electric shavers: 2.3 million
  15. Kitchen blenders: 2.3 million
  16. Games consoles: 2.2 million


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