Farming News - Government reforms set to spark greater reuse and recycling of electrical goods

Government reforms set to spark greater reuse and recycling of electrical goods

  • Government will make it easier for people and businesses to reuse and recycle their old electrical goods 
  • Plans will ensure changes don't cost households, with manufacturers, suppliers and retailers set to be responsible for the recycling 
  • Reforms will power the drive towards a greener, more circular economy, while making recycling electrical goods easy to do across the country 
The Government is set to make it easier for households to recycle electrical cords, devices and white goods under new UK-wide plans announced today (28 December).  
Shocking statistics show an estimated 155,000 tonnes of smaller household electricals such as cables, toasters, kettles and power tools are wrongly thrown in the bin each year. UK homes are thought to hoard a further 527 million unwanted electrical items containing valuable materials such as gold, silver and platinum. 
The waste generated during the festive period demonstrates the scale of the problem: 500 tonnes of Christmas lights are discarded every year in the UK. 
To power the transition to a circular economy, government proposals unveiled today will change how we all dispose of electrical equipment, both large and small, ensuring retailers can turn old goods into new wares.  
The move builds on the major steps already taken by the Government this year to clamp down on plastic pollution and clean up our streets. 
A range of measures are proposed within the joint UK Government, Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive consultation for introduction from 2026, including: 
  • UK-wide collections of waste electricals directly from households – saving the public from having to trek to distant electrical disposal points. The collections would be financed by producers of electrical items, not the taxpayer, and not necessarily require any further bins. 
  • Large retailers rolling out collection drop points for electrical items in-store, free of charge, without the need to buy a replacement product. 
  • Retailers and online sellers taking on responsibility for collecting unwanted or broken large electrical items such as fridges or cookers when delivering a replacement. 
The proposals will mean consumers will be able to recycle their goods during their weekly shop or without even leaving the house. 
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is set to work closely with manufacturers, major retailers and small and medium enterprises throughout the consultation period to ensure the most efficient and accessible options become a reality.  
Recycling Minister Robbie Moore said:  
"Every year millions of household electricals across the UK end up in the bin rather than being correctly recycled or reused. This is a sheer waste of our natural resources and has to stop. 
"We all have a drawer of old tech somewhere that we don't know what to do with and our proposals will ensure these gadgets are easy to dispose of without the need for a trip to your local tip. Our plans will also drive the move to a more circular economy and create new jobs by making all recycling simpler."
The changes proposed also ensure suppliers of vapes properly finance the cost of their separate collection and treatment when the items become waste. 
Nearly 5 million vapes are now thrown away every week, the equivalent to eight per second and almost four times higher even than last year. Industry estimates the potential yearly cost of collecting and recycling vapes, which have been incorrectly disposed of, at £200 million.  
These measures build on the Prime Minister's proposals to restrict the sale of disposable vapes, which is part of a separate consultation to create the first smokefree generation and crack down on youth vaping. These products are not only attractive to children but also incredibly harmful to the environment.  
Elsewhere, the consultation proposes extending obligations to contribute to the collection of waste electricals and the financing of their recycling and preparation for reuse to online marketplaces such as Amazon. This would ensure that major international suppliers have to comply with the regulations as well – not just British businesses. 
A recent study on public attitudes and behaviours found that around 86% of people in the UK think it is worth recycling and taking the time to do it properly. It also showed many are unaware of or have difficulty accessing recycling points for waste electricals.  
Around three-quarters of UK adults say they would recycle their electricals at their local supermarket, electrical retailer or charity retailer if it was available to them. More than 77% of householders would view a retailer as more environmentally responsible if they knew they offered an electrical recycling service.    
As such, the Government has today launched a 10-week consultation on the proposed improvements to the industry-funded scheme for waste electricals, as committed to in the Government's Environmental Improvement Plan earlier this year.  
Increasing the collection and recycling of waste electricals has the potential to drive greater investment in the UK's treatment and re-use sector, helping to create British jobs and deliver on the Prime Minister's priority of growing the economy. 
Rob Sant, Managing Director of's electrical recycling operations, said:
"We're the only UK electricals retailer with its own fridge recycling plant, having invested over £20m in our mission to make new appliances out of old ones through our facilities. We recycle a fifth of all the fridges that are thrown away each year and, since we opened it in 2017, we've recycled or reused over seven million large appliances. 
"Being both a retailer and a recycler gives us a unique perspective to input to this consultation on the practicalities for our industry, driving higher standards and making it easier for customers to recycle more electrical waste."
Jacob Hayler, Executive Director of the Environmental Services Association, said:
"Far too many electronic devices currently end up in the bin, so making it simpler and more convenient for householders to recycle waste electricals at home will undoubtedly play a key role in helping our sector return the valuable and rare materials in these devices back to the circular economy.  
"On behalf of those operating recycling centres and kerbside collection services, we welcome the opportunity to contribute through consultation and help create an effective system that delivers on its intended outcomes and works, not just for householders, but for obligated producers and retailers too. 
"Waste electricals and particularly vapes increasingly contain powerful batteries and are now responsible for hundreds of serious fires every year when not recycled responsibly, so we hope that offering convenient and widespread household collection services for these devices will also help reverse the growing trend of battery fires blighting the sector.
The proposed reforms for waste electricals build on the Government's wider efforts to increase recycling and reduce waste. New restrictions on single-use plastic plates, trays, bowls, cutlery, balloon sticks, expanded and extruded polystyrene food and drinks containers came into force on 1 October to help reduce plastic pollution and keep streets clean.   
The Government is also moving forward with the implementation of our deposit return scheme for drinks containers and its extended producer responsibility scheme for packaging to boost recycling and clamp down on plastic pollution and litter.    
A ban on microbeads in rinse-off personal care products has already been introduced alongside restrictions on the supply of single-use plastic items like straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds and last year's world-leading Plastic Packaging Tax. Meanwhile, the single-use plastic carrier bag charge has successfully cut sales by more than 97% in the main supermarkets.  
We are taking action to conserve our finite resources, establish a more circular economy and protect the environment and human health from the negative impacts of waste.