Image of electrical recycling

What to do with electrical items?

03 Apr 21

There’s no denying we’re a national of gadget lovers, but these items are slightly prone to changing fashions. 

Whether a fancier phone has come along, or the old kettle doesn’t match the new kitchen, small electricals find themselves out of use for a variety of reasons. And sadly, because they can fit in the bin, that’s usually where they end up. But wait! There are lots of alternatives.

What is WEEE?

If your small electrical item is still in good working condition then it can be passed on for reuse. Otherwise, it’s WEEE - waste electrical and electronic equipment - or end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment. 

WEEE includes small kitchen appliances such as kettles, toasters, food mixers and blenders, microwave ovens; personal grooming products like hairdryers, straighteners, curling tongs, electric toothbrushes and shavers; electric garden tools such as lawnmowers, hedge trimmers and leaf blowers/shredders; other items such as lamps, torches, vacuum cleaners, telephones, mobiles, radios, TV's, printers, camcorders, cameras and smoke alarms.

How to check if you can recycle it?

It's easy to check if an electrical item, toy or game is recyclable. Just ask the following questions:

 If the answer is yes to any of these, it can be recycled.

Crossed out wheelie bin icon

Household recycling collection

Electronics and small electrical items are not accepted via household recycling collections and should be recycled at your local recycling centre or at a WEEE bring site.

Electronics and small electrical items should NOT be disposed of in general waste for the following reasons:

  • Electrical items contain batteries that, when thrown in a bin, dangerously end up in landfills. As they decompose, hazardous elements from the metals are released into the environment contributing to water and air pollution
  • If electrical products are disposed of in landfill with batteries still inside, they can potentially cause battery fires
  • There is no opportunity for refurbishment and repair so that an item can be reused
  • There is no opportunity to recycle the items and recover valuable materials and resources
not currently recycled

Household waste recycling centre (HWRC)

Yes local recycling centres collect electronics and electrical items look out for the WEEE signage.

Lithium-ion batteries, the sort you find in laptops, tablets and other gadgets should be removed from your unwanted device if possible and deposited alongside WEEE items.

Recycling facilities exist

Other recycling collections

Currys PC World offers free in-store recycling and the best bit is you don’t even have to buy anything. Just take along your unwanted electricals to your local store. They accept everything from computers to toasters, and floor cleaners to TVs, no matter where you purchased them from.

Retailers will quite often collect your unwanted electricals (for a charge) when they deliver your new one - especially larger items like TV's, fridges and freezers.

Recycling facilities exist

Removing your personal data

Don't recycle, trade-in, sell, or donate your device without wiping it clean.

It’s up to you to make sure your personal data has been, or will be, removed from your electronic devices. And we’re not just talking about mobile phones, tablets and laptops. Lots of electrical items store information about us, from smart TVs to sat navs. Take care of your personal data and reduce the risk of it being used by someone else.

What can you do?

  1. Electrical items can be donated to some charity shops or reuse organisations - many offer collection services.

  2. A simple repair could give an item a new lease of life and save you money too. Look out for a local repair cafe if you’re not confident about making the fix yourself.

  3. Pass them on... to friends and family or through websites such as Freecycle and Freegle.

  4. Some shops such as Cash Converters and CeX buy electrical or electronic items, especially if you have the original box and instructions etc.

Recycling is constantly evolving and changing so check back for updates or try our recycling locator to find out what you can recycle at home and where you can recycle or pass on unwanted items in your local area.