British households are home to almost 15 million unused mobile phones, more than seven million old DVD players and six million TVs

A study of 2,000 adults found properties across the country are acting as storage centres for such items, simply because owners haven’t got around to sorting out their belongings. e-waste

Of those polled, 39 per cent currently have unused electrical items in their home, including a further 3,501,792 discarded iPods, 4,669,056 unused headphones and 4,585,680 retro VCR players.

Reasons for holding on to outdated tech include keeping them as s5.6pares in case their current item breaks (17 per cent), hoping they can get fixed (11 per cent) and not knowing how to get rid of them (nine per cent).

The research was commissioned by Virgin Media O2 which has teamed up with environmental charity, Hubbub, to launch the Time After Time  <> e-waste fund for community groups and organisations to run projects that tackle e-waste and promote circularity.

Mobile phones are the most common unused items e-waste

The most common unused items were revealed as mobile phones (23 per cent), DVD players (16 per cent) and TVs (13 per cent).

Items being outdated (15 per cent), no longer having a need (14 per cent) and being broken or faulty (12 per cent) are among the reasons electrical devices aren’t used.

Such gadgets are typically held onto for six years and kept in cupboards (30 per cent), attics (25 per cent) and garages (22 per cent).

Despite this, 31 per cent claim to be concerned about the impact of e-waste on the planet and 25 per cent do not know where their nearest electronic recycle point is.

Nicola Green from Virgin Media O2 said: “It’s staggering how many old, unused, and outdated gadgets like phones, VCR players and USB sticks are gathering dust in drawers, lofts, and garages across the country.

“We know that people are worried about their old tech ending up in landfill and the impact it’s having on the planet.

“That’s why we’ve launched the £500,000 Time After Time fund with Hubbub to fund eco projects that tackle e-waste and help old devices to be used again and again.”

53% still have personal data on unused electrical devices

The study also found that half (51 per cent) do not think enough is being done to tackle the problem of e-waste and 21 per cent admitted they feel guilty for not recycling old unused electrical items.

While 38 per cent have taken an old or unused device to the tip, 32 per cent have thrown them away with household rubbish.

A further 28 per cent plan to donate goods to charity and 24 per cent hope to sell them when they get around to sorting out their unused electrical items.

But more than half (53 per cent) still have personal data on unused electrical devices, including photos (52 per cent), emails (40 per cent) and work-related documents (26 per cent).

And worryingly 44 per cent do not know how to wipe such data from items they no longer use.

More than a third (34 per cent) worry about their personal information being stolen or shared if they were to recycle a device.

Those polled via OnePoll would be more encouraged to recycle tech if it was easier (46 per cent), they knew where to take them (43 per cent) and if they could do so from their own home (30 per cent).

Three quarters would help a local community group by recycling their e-waste

Yet, 56 per cent argued there is not enough information widely available about how to dispose of e-waste in an ethical way.

Almost three quarters (73 per cent) would help a local community group by recycling their old electrical items if they could. 

Gavin Ellis, Co-founder of Hubbub said: “E-waste is a pressing environmental issue and we’re encouraging organisations to apply for this funding with projects that remove barriers and help people to extend the life of their old electricals by repairing, passing them on or recycling them.

“Organisations can apply for grants between £10,000 to £75,000.

“We’re urging people to spread the word about this funding which could have a significant impact.

“If you know a charity, social enterprise, local authority or community organisation running e-waste initiatives then do point them in our direction to apply for this financial support.”


Top 20 unused electrical items in UK households:

  • Mobile phones – 14,701,968
  • DVD players – 7,114,752
  • TVs – 6,142,032
  • USB sticks – 5,641,776
  • Radios – 4,724,640
  • Headphones – 4,669,056
  • Printers – 4,585,680
  • VCR players – 4,585,680
  • Laptop – 4,446,720
  • Microwaves – 4,446,720
  • iPod – 3,501,792
  • Cameras – 3,335,040
  • Stereo players – 3,112,704
  • Landline phone – 3,112,704
  • Tablet/iPads – 2,918,160
  • Computer keyboards – 2,834,784
  • Cassette player / portable CD player – 2,723,616
  • Computer mouse – 2,779,200
  • Vacuums – 2,501,280
  • Computer monitors – 1,945,440



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