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Homes hoarding £7 billion worth of old gadgets

Saf Malik
April 9, 2021

35 million mobile phones among the gadgets laying around

Our homes are holding 184 million pieces of out-of-date tech worth more than £7 billion according to research from

The average household has seven unused gadgets with almost one in three (28 per cent) hanging onto old laptops.

A similar proportion (27 per cent) are storing out-of-date TVs and digital cameras (27 per cent). More than three million are still holding onto old brick-style phones which were popular in the early to mid-90s.

Unwanted laptops are worth an estimated £2 billion while spare televisions could be worth around £900 million. Digitals cameras are worth £2 billion and DVD players could bring in £133 million.

One in seven (15 per cent) have held onto an old gadget for more than ten years with nearly a million homes still holding on to old fax machines and almost four million having a video player collection dust.

Almost two-fifths (39 per cent) of customers say they are holding on to the unwanted tech in case it becomes useful in the future, while 23 per cent are too lazy to throw it out.

Around eight million people (19 per cent) say that they haven’t got rid of old gadgets because they are worried about personal data stored on them.

More than a fifth (21 per cent) don’t know how to recycle the device properly, and one in six (17 per cent) say it is because the tech has sentimental value to them.

Among the pile of old gadgets are 35 million mobile phones, of which 22 million are smartphones worth an estimated £1 billion.

Uswitch telecoms expert Ru Bhikha said: “Millions of us are hoarding old, unwanted tech that could be worth a small fortune to its owner or recycled to reuse the precious metals inside.

“Mobile phones, laptops, games consoles, cameras, and TVs all hold a lot of value and can be exchanged for cash with minimal effort. 

“Many of us have a habit for upgrading our phone and holding onto our old one in case they become useful at a later date. They often end up collecting dust when they could benefit somebody else or help reduce the impact of waste on the environment.”

Material Focus executive director Scott Butler added: “Discarded electricals are one of the fastest-growing sources of waste. 

“Many everyday electricals such as mobile phones, TVs, laptops, and baby monitors contain small amounts of precious metals that can be extracted and given new life if they are recycled.  

“Recycling your old tech is not only good for the environment, but there is also a huge amount of value in unwanted electricals – whether you sell them so that they can be reused, donated so that someone else in need can benefit, or recycled. 

“If you’re having a clear-out, remember that anything with a plug, battery, or cable can be recycled. You can find your nearest recycling or donation drop-off point by visiting the recycle your electricals website.”

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