Electricals - Overview

This section describes the opportunities for re-use of electrical and electronic products that would otherwise be discarded.

Links are provided to separate Household Waste Prevention Hub pages which cover:

  • the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Sustainability Action Plan (esap);
  • repair of items; and
  • relevant case studies.

Key Points

  • 180 million electrical and electronic products are sold annually in the UK
  • There is a huge opportunity for re-use and repair of equipment
  • The average home contains around £1,200 worth of electrical and electronic equipment but many householders don’t realise their used products still have significant value – this value amounts to around £3 billion across the UK

WRAP’s Switched on to Value research showed that annual UK retail sales of electrical and electronic products constitutes around 1.4 million tonnes of materials in 180 million products.

Each year, consumers discard a similar amount of products, only 7% of which are re-used and around a third go to landfill.  

Around a third of all washing machines and fridges, and a quarter of all the vacuum cleaners replaced in the UK each year failed to meet the average customer’s expectation for each product’s lifetime.

Five common household products account for 40% of the materials-related impact:

  • TVs
  • laptops
  • washing machines
  • fridges/freezers
  • vacuum cleaners

Changing the design, manufacturing, buying process (including the availability of second-hand goods) and disposal of electrical and electronic equipment could reduce the associated carbon footprint by up to 15% and add £800 million in GDP to the UK economy.  

Reselling items on the internet and donating items to charities or other organisations helps prolong the lifetime of unwanted electrical and electronic products.

WRAP has recently launched its Partnerships are key to success (PAKTS) initiative which comprises a suite of material around re-use including that of electricals.