As a nation we are one the biggest producers of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), wasting 25k per person each year - roughly the same weight as two microwave ovens!
When electrical appliances are disposed of correctly, rather than being sent to landfill, some useful components can be recycled and any harmful materials can be processed properly so they don't pollute the environment.
But how can we dispose of our electronic appliances sustainably? In time for Recycle Week (20th - 26th September), the team at Ideal Heating have put together a guide on how you should be safely recycling your home appliances to help reduce your carbon footprint.
The Problems with Electrical & Electronic Waste
An estimated 2 million tonnes of electrical items are discarded by householders and companies each year in the UK instead of reusing and recycling them. This creates e-waste (electronic waste) and poses a major threat to the environment.
There's an abundance of issues when it comes to electrical waste. If old electronics go to landfill we lose valuable resources - which is a big problem! It causes massive environmental damage as digging raw material out of the ground disturbs our surroundings, so reusing and recycling equals less harm to our planet.
Furthermore, if old electricals are passed on and resold, those funds can make a huge difference to people's lives and the economy. There’s also a huge negative impact on climate change as producing electricals creates a large amount of carbon emissions. We could save millions of tonnes of CO2 if we recycled our old electricals instead of binning them.
How Do I Get Rid of Old Appliances?
Skip the skips and start donating, repairing and recycling. General rubbish bins may be designed to make waste disposal more convenient but they are not doing the environment any favours. Excessive skip use is a huge problem and that's why Ideal Heating has put together the best ways to dispose of your electrical waste safely.
Don’t Need an Old Device? Donate Them!
Are your old appliances still in working order? Why not donate them to a charity, organisation or to a new home? If the appliance is still in perfect working condition and someone else could benefit from it, you could donate it. Many charities, including The British Heart Foundation, collect TVs, washing machines and more - free of charge - to then sell in their shops. All you need to do is book online!
Donating your electrical items can have some major benefits. It stops resources heading to landfill, as thousands of tonnes of working electronics end up as waste and the materials they contain are lost forever. In most cases many still work and therefore phones, laptops and cameras can be refurbished and put to good use elsewhere.
A great perk is that it's good for the people and the planet, reducing demand for raw materials, lowering CO2 emissions and giving a low-income household affordable goods. Lots of charities and individuals will love your unwanted goods!
Before Recycling, Get Them Fixed!
Repair and fix your electronics instead of throwing them away - it's much better for your pocket and the planet! Thanks to these four benefits there is no reason to stop you from trying to get your old electronics fixed.
- It will save you money. Instead of splashing out on new gear just give it a quick repair.
- You’ll save resources. When refurbishing old electricals, less tech goes to landfills.
- You will learn a new skill. Whilst fixing you will gain practical skills that can last you a lifetime.
- It leaves you feeling amazing! It's hard to beat the feeling you get from a good-as-new product that helps save you money and helps to protect the planet.
How to Recycle Old Appliances
There are many options when it comes to recycling your electronics and electrical equipment. You can use recycle banks, supermarket collection points, or even arrange pick-up from your home - the options are endless.
If you opt for pick-up, you will need to make sure your appliances are safely disconnected from the mains, gas and water supply and that your freezers are fully defrosted. Many retailers, including Argos, John Lewis and IKEA, will collect your items for just a small fee. They will usually collect items such as fridges, freezers, tumble dryers, washing machines and TVs.
Before heading out to recycle your goods, remember to remove any batteries, bulbs and personal data from smart devices and computers. Then bag them up and store them safely until you can get to a recycle point.
What Electrical Items Can be Recycled?
An abundance of electrical and electronic equipment can be recycled, which saves money and helps to protect the planet. This includes the following:
- Smart devices
- Household appliances and white goods
- Entertainment, toys and leisure equipment
- Personal grooming appliances
- Power tools, gardening and DIY equipment
Where Can I Recycle Old Electrical Appliances?
It’s simple - you can use a recycle locator to find out where your nearest recycling points are! From store collections, recycle centres, scrap merchants and council collection, you are bound to find a suitable recycling point in your area.
Councils will happily collect large appliances, such as fridges and washing machines, from outside your house as part of their ‘bulky waste’ collection service. Usually you will have a fee to pay and this can vary depending on where you live.
TOP TIP: Your local recycle centres may also charge a fee if you turn up with the goods yourself, so make sure to double check to see which option works best for you.
How to Recycle Small Electrical Appliances
Smaller pieces of electrical and electronic waste can be disposed of fairly easily via roadside and supermarket collection points, in-store at retailers or at recycle banks.
As well as the above, many local organisations and charities may collect small electrical appliances that are still in working condition, to sell to low-income households. This means there are a wide range of options when it comes to your small electrical goods!
How Can I Sell Used Appliances in the UK?
You can sell your second-hand electrical appliances in three easy steps - sort, prepare and cash in!
Sort. Firstly, you will want to separate your unwanted electronics into three piles - sell, donate, or recycle - it makes the rest so much easier!
Prepare. Next, before you package up your home appliances you will need to make sure you remove any batteries, bulbs and memory cards. Don't forget to delete any data from smart devices and IT equipment too!
Cash in. Lastly, check out peer-to-peer marketplaces. This is where you will get to keep most of the sale price and, in some cases, retailers might buy back your old appliance when you go in to replace a product.
By simply donating, repairing and recycling your electrical home appliances, you can reduce your carbon footprint and protect our environment.
You’ll find further environmental advice and tips on boiler care in our FAQs, as well as more in-depth guides on the Ideal Heating blog.