Kerbside collections for waste electricals

Update to an economic and environmental review.

Material Focus has commissioned research which has identified that if kerbside collections were to be introduced across the UK, this could provide the capacity to collect 85,600 tonnes of waste electricals each year.

This would equate to 55% of the 155,000 tonnes of small electricals that are currently thrown away annually. The research was originally conducted in 2021 by Oakdene Hollins in partnership with SUEZ. This updated March 2022 version has been revised to incorporate more recent data from the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) on local authority waste and recycling service costs.

Previous Material Focus research found that UK households are throwing away 155,000 tonnes of waste electricals every year. A further 527 million items are hoarded in UK homes. This is contributing to one of the fastest growing waste streams in the UK and globally, estimated to cost the UK economy over £370 million per year of lost valuable raw materials, such as gold, copper, aluminium and steel. Kerbside collections of small electricals are being considered as one way to reduce losses by making it easier for the public to recycle the smaller electricals that too often end up being binned.

Method

The researchers carried out two online surveys amongst local authorities and waste contractors across the UK. The surveys assessed the different methods of collecting waste electricals in existing kerbside areas, the costs of operating these services, and the weight of electricals collected. 66 responses were received from a mix of local authorities and waste partnerships, representing 80 local authorities overall. Of these, 46 currently operate a kerbside collection service for small electricals.

The cost of scaling up existing kerbside collections of electricals were modelled to estimate UK wide setup and operating costs, forecast collection capacity and volumes, and CO2 emissions. Costs and capture rates of dedicated separate pass vehicles were also modelled, both to augment the existing collection models and as a standalone option.

Key findings

  • The modelling estimates that up to £10.5 million would be needed to set up kerbside collection of waste electricals for all UK households that currently don’t have this service.
  •  A further £6.7 million per annum operating costs would be required to run the kerbside collection service.

The findings from the research will feed into the upcoming consultation on the review of the UK’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment regulations, due to take place during 2022.

Update to A Review (Economic and Environmental) of Kerbside Collections for Waste Electricals

Oakdene Hollins, SUEZ. March 2022. 115 pages. PDF.

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Update to a Review Economic and Environmental of Kerbside Collections for Waste Electricals cover