Households hoarding 880 million unused electrical items, Material Focus says



New research from Material Focus has found UK households are hoarding 880 million unused electrical items and throwing away 103,000 tonnes of electricals.

343,000 tonnes of electricals are also being lost through being stolen or illegally exported, Material Focus said. The research, “Electrical Waste: Challenges and Opportunities”, found that the materials contained inside these “lost electricals” are worth £927 million.

Using updated United Nations (Unitar) research the report identified a steep rise in illegal waste exports, which is now at 187,000 tonnes, and the rise in theft, which is now at 156,000 tonnes, Material Focus said. The research found this would be worth £439 million to the UK economy if the electrical items were recycled in the UK.

Material Focus said 7.98 million tonnes of CO2 could also be saved if the electricals that are thrown away, held onto, stolen or illegally exported were recycled.

We seem to be venturing into an era of hyper-tech-buying.

The report, which is an update on research that was first published in 2021, uses publicly available waste data flow to identify how the different UK regions contribute to the total UK waste electricals collected and recycled from local authorities, Material Focus said.

Scott Butler, Executive Director, Material Focus commented: “We seem to be venturing into an era of hyper-tech-buying. The amount of electricals that we buy and use has soared in recent years by over a third since 2019, whether it’s the latest kitchen FadTech such as an air fryer, to fitness tech and FastTech. FastTech are cheap small electricals such as mini-fans, charging cables, vapes, earphones and earbuds.

“When electricals break or become unwanted too many of them end up being thrown away or are held onto unused. This is a significant missed opportunity. With the value of the materials that are inside our electricals increasing by up to 180% over the last 4 years, it has never been more important to not lose that value.”

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