It’s a question we all face. That toaster which no longer toasts. That charger that no longer charges. That vacuum cleaner that no longer vacs. The list of electrical appliances in our homes is never ending. I often only think of electronics as the obvious ones, laptops, phones, etc., but so much of what we use every day has electrical components. And now, as a parent, we have oh so many more electrical items in our home. But what do we do with these items when they break?
The Daily Mail quotes the following figures from a survey by EuroPc (I couldn’t find the original report): 82% of users do not know the proper way to recycle old electronics. When faced with a device they no longer use, 77% of people will hoard it, 63% will throw it in the bin, 48% will sell it, and only 8% will recycle it.
Sadly, those 63% who are throwing these items in the bin are creating huge environmental problems. Many electronics contain batteries. As the batteries break down they release toxic chemicals and hazardous metals into the landfill contributing to water and air pollution. In addition, these resources are then effectively lost when they could be refurbished and reused. Frighteningly, according to Which!, an estimated two million tonnes of electronics are discarded in the UK every year. The UK is one of the worst offenders in this area, discarding 23.9kg of electronics per person in 2019, the second highest figure in the world!
So back to our question, what SHOULD we be doing? Well hoarding electronics isn’t helping anyone either so that leaves us with the last two options….sell it or recycle it. Selling old electronics, especially if these is nothing wrong with them, is 100% the best option. If you really don’t want it anymore then at least let someone else have it. You might even make a bit of money. And if you can’t be bothered selling it, then give it away! There are plenty of places taking old electronics.
Charity shops (although some don’t take electricals)
Facebook market place
Even check with friends and family
The last one on the list, recycling, is a bit more tricky. Recycling really should be a last resort with old electrical items. Before sending any items to be recycled, we would highly recommend trying to find it a new home. If it is broken then consider popping along to a Repair Café to get it fixed. They might even be able to help you find it a new home if you don’t want it. Failing that, if you really want to get rid of it or it can’t be fixed, then we recommend check out your nearest recycling point for your products here. This website allows you to put your postcode in and find the nearest places for donations, repair and recycling for a wide range of different items. You can take small electricals to the tip to be recycled.
We are approaching a time when resources are going to become increasingly hard to find, particularly for electronics. These items which we value so little and just throw away will soon become much sought after. If we can keep resources in use, we can avoid future generations having to trawl through landfill sites to try and extract them.