Daily Management Review

MF: 0.5bn cheap electrical appliances are thrown away in the UK every year


Over half a billion inexpensive electrical items were purchased by British customers in 2022, or one every 16 seconds on average. 471 million of these devices were disposed of in the nation's landfills at the end of the year, writes the British research group Material Focus in its new study for the International Day of Electrical and Electronic Waste Solutions.

According to Material Focus, ninety percent of inexpensive devices and accessories—which typically cost £4 each—end up in the trash shortly after being purchased. For instance, 260 million vape pens, 26 million charging cords, 29 million different types of lightbulbs and torches, 9.8 million USB sticks, 4.8 million tiny fans, etc. were thrown away last year.

Nine inexpensive electrical appliances are purchased annually by the average British adult, of which eight are thrown away, or ninety percent. People purchase them for a variety of reasons, such as to replace a lost or damaged one or simply to satisfy their curiosity in a novel product. Material Focus specialists refer to this tendency as "fast tech" and relate it to "fast fashion". Furthermore, more "fast tech" items than "fast fashion" clothing were thrown away last year—a first for the latter part of the decade.

This year saw spending on "fast fashion" items surpass £2.8 billion for the first time ever. In the UK, almost 100 tonnes of electrical appliances are discarded annually if we include all of them and not just the least expensive ones. Additionally, 880 million different electrical appliances that are never used are laying around in British homes.

Experts from Material Focus note in their report that, surprisingly, not many customers consider that discarded appliances pollute the environment and they might contain valuable materials, such as metals like copper, lithium, and others, which can be recovered and used again.

source: materialfocus.org.uk