Saturday 22nd October 2016                 Change text size:

Britons are throwing away chances to recycle

Britons are throwing away chances to recycle

People in the UK are throwing away £762m a year when they decide to throw away old gadgets rather than recycling them. Charlotte Reid has more.

One in three adults send phones, MP3 players and other electrical gadgets to landfill sites every year, according to research by mobile operator O2.

Each year, 17m devices are thrown away rather than sent to a recycling centre, so people are missing out getting paid an average of £43 for recycling their phones. This means in total £762m is just thrown away.

People have already shown that they have an interest in recycling small electrical goods – internet searches for mobile phone recycling have trebled in the past few years. But now Sainsbury’s, Royal Mail and Boots, to name a few, also pay for used electrical items.

Last year, the Government’s waste adviser said that almost a quarter of electronic waste thrown away could be reused. The study, called Realising the Reuse Value of Household WEEE (Waste, Electrical and Electronic Equipment), revealed that mobile phones, laptops and other electrical items were thrown away not because they were broken, but because they had been replaced by a more up to date version.

Earlier this year, the European Parliament announced revisions to the WEEE directive to try and encourage more people to get interested in recycling electrical waste.

One of the measures introduced is that people will be able to take mobile phones and other small electrical items to shops specialising in electrical items, even if they do not buy a replacement.

This has been welcomed by retailers such as Bob Gordon, head of environment at the British Retail Consortium, who said, “Retailers recognise the importance of recovering valuable resources such as those in electronic equipment and this approach should improve greater recycling rates”.

O2 has gone one step further to help cut electronic waste and try and become more energy efficient, as they have decided that when you buy a new phone from them they will no longer include a charger as standard.

This is just one of a number of pledges that is part of the company’s three-year sustainability plan that is seen over by think-tank, Forum for the Future.

Jonathan Porritt, founder and chairman for the Forum for the Future, said that in our current economic climate, “sustainability keeps on delivering real benefits for customers, communities and shareholders”.

However, Gordon warns that we cannot place the future of recycling electrical waste purely on retailers.

He said, “It is important that we build on the substantial progress made to date, so that in store collection points complement council recycling centres”.

There are many ways that we can all work together to make the future of the planet sustainable. Blue & Green Tomorrow recommends changing your shopping habits to be more considerate about the environment, look up the Ethical Superstore.

You can also consider investing your money into a sustainable company; just speak to your IFA to find out more. If you don’t have an IFA, then fill in our online form and we’ll put you in touch with a specialist financial adviser.

Picture source: Dru Bloomfield

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