39 million tech items are hoarded in UK homes including £1.5 billion worth of working laptops that could be resold

Media release, 12 Oct 2022

Financial uncertainty surrounds many of us.  Recycle Your Electricals is highlighting the hidden value in  some households’s unused electricals in advance of International e-waste Day (14th October).  

20.7 million unused but working tech electricals, worth a possible £5.63 billion, are currently hoarded in UK homes, and  the average UK household could sell unwanted tech and raise an average of £200 to help them with their cost of living crisis.   The new research, commissioned by REPIC, has identified how many small working electricals are being hoarded. 

This is in advance of the International E-waste Day campaign’s message that “we should recycle it all, no matter how small”.  E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world and the UK, and according to Recycle Your Electricals research 155,000 tonnes of waste electricals are thrown away in the UK alone each year.   REPIC’s research also identified that 18.6 million broken tech items are currently being hoarded in UK homes, including laptops, tablets, computers, and games consoles that could be recycled.     

The research also found that the following items could be sold or recycled by UK householders: 

  • UK households are holding on to more IT equipment than other small appliances and gadgets. 
  • A staggering 11.7 million laptops and 9.17 million tablets have the potential to be sold or recycled, both featured in the five most hoarded item
  • 18.5 million games consoles and 6.5 million computers also have the potential to be sold or recycled
  • 33% of households have at least one electrical device in their home that doesn’t work that could be recycled. 
  • Only 33% of people are confident that they know how to recycle their electricals.

Re-sale value of hoarded tech items:

  • Games console re-sale value can range from an Xbox One at £110 to a Nintendo Switch at £200. 
  • Tablets can be re-sold for between £193 and £420 
  • Laptops resale value range between £274 and £420
  • Desktop computers, including the monitor, could be re-sold for around £250 

Scott Butler, Executive Director of Material Focus said:  “This new research has shown again what we know. There is a huge amount of value in a household’s unwanted electricals, whether sold so that they can be reused, donated to help those in need, or recycled so that the valuable materials inside our devices can be recovered and made into something new.  Electricals and tech  are valuable, and this value will be lost forever if they are thrown away.  Anything with a plug, battery or cable should always be recycled as a minimum.”

Louise Grantham, Chief Executive at REPIC Ltd said : “We’re keen to make consumers aware that the real value is keeping small electricals in circulation for longer – either through passing them on, selling them and / or recycling them at the end of their useful life. Decluttering enables precious material to be recovered and reused in the manufacturing of new products and collectively makes a big difference to our environment by reducing the demand for new raw materials.”

Personal finance top tips

  • Start budgeting now – get out your bank and card statements and go through each line ruthlessly. If there are regular amounts you don’t recognise check what they are and if you don’t want them in future cancel them.  
  • Look at your debts, dealing with the most expensive first.  There are schemes now to freeze payments which are worth checking out.  If you are going to miss a payment, talk to the lender. 
  • Get your benefits – as your income falls you may be entitled to help from the Government or your local council. Check it out using the free, anonymous, calculator at www.turn2us.org.uk
  • Claim back tax.  If you have lost your job or worked from home in the last couple of years, then you will probably be due money back from the taxman.  Go to gov.uk and search ‘working from home’ and ‘tax refunds’. Don’t pay anyone to do it for you. That is just a waste of money.
  • Anyone born between 1 September 2002 and 2 January 2011 (inclusive) has a little pot of money with their name on it from the government.  If you are 18 you can get hold of it – the average is worth around £1,000.  Do it for free through sharefound.org
  • You might also consider finding the tech scattered around your home and consider bringing them together and dividing them into “Sell. Donate. Recycle.”  You could be surprised how much value there is.  

Recycle your Elecricals Top tips on selling your electricals

  • Sort – Separate your unwanted electricals into 3 piles: sell, donate, or recycle. It makes the rest so much easier.
  • Prepare – Before bagging up your old items to donate, sell, or recycle make sure you remove batteries, bulbs and memory cards, and delete data from smart devices and IT. See our guide on how to delete your data that we developed with the Information Commissioner’s Office 
  • Cash in – Check out peer-to-peer market places – where you get to keep most of the sale price. Or, if you’re replacing a product, some retailers buy back your old one.

For more information on how to sell or recycle your electricals visit www.recycleyourelectricals.org.uk  Anything with a plug, battery or cable can be recycled. 


Notes to Editors:

For media enquiries please contact kate@materialfocus.org.uk mobile 07714 708416  


The research was commissioned by REPIC and conducted by Mustard.  3,001 householders were surveyed, aged 18+ and research was run from 7th July to 29th July 2022. Results were sent to a nationally representative sample and are also weighted to nationally representative figures of age, gender and region (taken from the ONS) to further ensure a nationally representative makeup.The survey was designed using the UNITAR WEEE flows tool kit to establish information on hoarding and lifespan of products.

About Material Focus and the Recycle Your Electricals campaign 

Material Focus is a not-for-profit organisation whose goal is to stop the nation throwing away or hoarding all their old small electricals. Material Focus is delivering  the UK-wide Recycle Your Electricals campaign. The campaign is revealing the value hidden in electricals and is making it easier for us all to recycle and reuse the small electricals we no longer need by providing more recycling points as well as providing practical information on how households can recycle.

The campaign is funded by producers of electrical appliances. The UK government sets annual targets for the recycling of all waste electricals, including small electricals. If producers of electrical appliances don’t meet this target, then they contribute towards a fund (WEEE Fund) which pays for a range of activities, including communications, behaviour change activities, increased recycling projects and research. Ultimately the aim is to support actions that will help the UK increase the levels of reuse and recycling of waste electricals.


REPIC is a not-for-profit producer compliance scheme established in January 2004 by leading companies in the electrical and electronics industry – to meet their obligations under producer responsibility legislation, including batteries, packaging and WEEE, and to assist in wider environmental compliance. REPIC has recycled over 3 million tonnes of electricals since the WEEE Regulations began in the UK.

Find out how you can get involved today

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