Half a Billion Cheap Electrical Items Go To UK Landfills in a Year, Research Finds

The not-for-profit organisation Material Focus, which conducted the research, said the scale of the issue was huge and they wanted to encourage more recycling. More than half a billion cheaply priced electronic goods were bought in the UK in the past year alone — 16 per second. Material Focus findings showed that of these items, 471m were thrown away. This included 260m disposable vapes, 26m cables, 29m LED, solar and decorative lights, 9.8m USB sticks, and 4.8m miniature fans.

Scott Butler, executive director at Material Focus, described it as “fast tech.” He said: “People should think carefully about buying some of the more frivolous … items in the first place.” He said the items people bought were often “cheap and small,” and that consumers may not realise they contain valuable materials that could be salvaged if recycled. Small electricals can contain precious materials including copper, lithium and stainless steel. These components can be recycled and used in wind turbines, medical devices and electric vehicles. Material Focus said that while people were used to the idea of recycling larger electrical items such as fridges, lots of smaller devices were left unused in houses.