UK Electrical Waste: Challenges & Opportunities 2023

This study builds on original research from 2019/2020. It is a robust inventory of the different ways working electricals and waste electricals flow through the UK economy. Understanding these flows helps to identify actions to improve reuse and recycling in the UK. 


Using a mix of new and updated data sources this research identifies types and volumes of electricals flows and pathways in the UK. 2021 is used as the most recent year when comparable datasets are published or available for analysis.

Quantitative findings

  • 2.2 million tonnes of electricals bought / put on the market 
  • 498,000 tonnes of electricals sent to approved electrical recyclers 
  • 880 million items unwanted and unused in UK homes – 30 per household (up from 20 four years ago)
  • 103,000 tonnes of electricals thrown away
  • 187,000 tonnes of illegal exports
  • 156,000 tonnes of stolen items


Between 2017 and 2021 the data shows a reduction in the weight of electricals being thrown away by the public. However, there remain areas of concern, such as an increase in the number of items held unused in UK homes, the rise in illegal exports, and the increase in freeriding as new products are entering the market from producers that aren’t complying with producer responsibility regulations.  

Waste electricals could play a significant role in the development of the UK’s circular economy, as they contain some of the most precious materials on our planet that can be infinitely recycled.  Greater knowledge sharing and implementation of best practice to improve the accessibility and availability of reuse and recycling options and consumer uptake would help to raise UK electricals reuse and recycling rates.

Electrical Waste: Challenges & Opportunities 2023

27 March 2024

a cover page for a report called Electrical waste challenges and opportunities 2023