E-waste photographic display launched at COP26

3 million tonnes of CO2 emissions could be saved if UK householders recycled their electricals

Media release, 9 November 2021

Material Focus is in the inner Blue Zone at COP26 in Glasgow this year displaying images from it’s Recycle Your Electricals campaign. The photographic exhibition will display life size images from it’s Hidden Treasures campaign, taken by  the award winning photographer Gregg Segal. The four birds eye view pictures were taken illustrating the huge amount of unwanted electricals each UK household has, and how much CO2 emissions could be saved if all UK households recycled their electricals. Working with Gregg Segal, it’s hoped the images  will surprise and inspire households to start reusing and recycling old electricals.

The exhibition will also show how recycling electricals can help reduce CO2 emissions. UK households are hoarding 527 million old small electricals, and 155,000 tonnes of waste electricals are thrown away in general household rubbish each year which if recycled, 2.8 million tonnes of CO2 emissions could be saved. This is the equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the road.  

Scott Butler, Executive Director, Material Focus said:  “We were delighted to be invited to display our Hidden Treasures photography series by Gregg Segal at COP26 in the Blue Zone this year.  The photos illustrate the sheer scale and growing challenge of electrical waste hoarded in UK homes, but also the positive impact on climate change that could be achieved by taking the simple steps of recycling. Waste electricals are the UK and world’s fastest growing waste stream, with some of the most precious materials on our planet being lost forever.  We hope that all the attendees at COP26 are inspired to take action to reuse and recycle their own electricals.” 

Gregg Segal, Photographer said: “We asked families and individuals to bring in all the unwanted or hoarded electricals they have in their homes and then lie down and be photographed surrounded by them.  I discovered that we don’t fully grasp how much waste we generate until we’re lying amongst it.  The bird’s-eye perspective allows viewers to clearly see the objects at a glance. The small, old electricals are crowded around the subjects. It’s meant to feel a little overwhelming – to reflect what we all feel when we hoard all this stuff. But we can feel relief, too. We don’t have to be surrounded by this stuff. We can pass on these old electricals to others or recycle them, a simple action that helps us all help reduce CO2 emissions.”

Currently only one third of people in the UK recycle their electricals. The photographs illustrate the incredible amount of electricals that are hoarded in UK homes – on average 20 per household.  The four life-size portrait images include: 

  • DJ Ian Downes, who discovered that materials in old electricals can be recycled into defibrillators. 
  • Award winning Natalie Fee, who realises that e-waste is becoming the fastest growing waste stream in the world.
  • Rupert and his three children, illustrating the number of cables hoarded in the UK – enough to go around the world 5 times.
  • Paul and his son are surrounded by electricals, showing us that sometimes we are overwhelmed by our hoarded electronic devices. 


Note to Editors

For further press information or copies of the photos please contact Kate Hinton – kate@matericalfocus.org.uk 

Here’s a link to the Gregg Segal images.  If you would like hi-res versions please email kate@materialfocus.org.uk

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.

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