Disposing of your old appliance

Electrical appliances are one of the fastest growing waste streams in the UK and Europe, with the amount of e-waste estimated to be rising by at least 2.5% every year. [1] 

In 2011, just under 500,000 tonnes of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) from households and 18 thousand tonnes from businesses were collected for recycling. [2] This is estimated to make up about 37% of nearly 1.4milion tonnes of waste equipment generated that year. [3] 

Reusing or recycling WEEE saves thousands of tonnes of valuable materials being landfilled or otherwise disposed of. It also reduces environmental footprint associated with the extraction of raw materials and the manufacture of electrical and electronic goods.  

Recycle it.  Many retailers now offer a collection service for WEEE with a guarantee your old appliance will be recycled.  All companies classed as ‘producers’ under the WEEE Directive must provide consumers with a means of recycling their old equipment. There may be a charge for collection from home, but the cost of recycling is borne by the producers and must be free to consumers. 

Can it be reused? If your old appliance is still working, consider donating it to an organisation that repairs and refurbishes electrical and electronic equipment for reuse. There are many such organisations – check the Community Resource Network website (www.crn.org.uk) for the one nearest to you. Appliances are usually collected free of charge, so you can save yourself money by avoiding bulky waste collection charges.


[1] 2008 Review of the Directive 2002/96 on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment, University of the United Nations, August 2007, http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/weee/pdf/final_rep_unu.pdf

[2] Environment Agency, http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/business/topics/waste/111016.aspx

[3] Materials Recycling Weekly, October 2011 (accessed in December 2012), http://www.mrw.co.uk/home/weeeve-got-a-big-gap-in-our-knowledge/8621769.article