Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment

What’s the problem?

Discarded electricals are one of the fastest growing sources of waste – and a big threat to the environment and human health. In the UK there are approximately 527 million unwanted electricals in our homes: approximately 20 small electricals in each average UK household.

We discard 155,000 tonnes of electricals every year, instead of reusing or recycling them. That creates e-waste – and that poses a major threat to the environment and to human health.

Lost resources
If old electricals go to landfill, or are fly tipped instead of being recycled, valuable resources are lost forever. That’s a big problem.

Loss to the economy
Discarded or hoarded household electricals cost the UK economy £370 million per year of lost valuable raw materials such as gold, copper, aluminium, and steel.

Loss of financial value
The average UK household is hiding away 20 unwanted electricals. If we passed these on to charities, they could make a big difference to people’s lives.

Loss through climate change
Producing electricals creates carbon emissions. Recycling our old electricals would cut as much CO2 as taking 1.3 million cars off the road.

Benefits of recycling

Recycling old electricals is better for the planet and your pocket. It means more jobs and saving precious resources.

Cleaner environment
Recycling old unwanted electricals uses less energy and creates less waste than making new products.

More from less
Precious materials in old electrical items can be recycled into life-saving equipment, bicycles – and even new electricals.

More cash
We’re hoarding billions of pounds worth of electricals that we could be reselling or passing on – imagine the extra cash and shelf space.

More jobs
Recycling all our old unwanted electricals would create hundreds of new jobs in electrical reuse and recycling.

What You Can Recycle

Anything with a plug, battery or cable can be recycled – and most of the materials in them can be made into new products.

Old electronics are everywhere

Our homes, gardens, sheds and offices are crammed with all sorts of old electricals and gadgets that we no longer want or use. So it’s important to know what electronics can be recycled – literally anything with a plug, battery, or cable. It’s easier than ever to recycle them, doing the planet and ourselves a huge favour.

Recycling batteries

Batteries can cause fires if you throw them in your normal recycling or waste bin – so it’s important to recycle them properly.

Recycling household appliances

Anything around the home with a plug, battery or cable can be recycled when you no longer need it. Find a spare bag to store your old electricals and electronics – and pop items in it. This is a great habit that will make your trips to your local recycling point that much easier.

How to Recycle


  • Mobile phones
  • Printers and printer cartridges
  • Cables and leads
  • Laptops and computers
  • Power tools, gardening, and DIY equipment – from lawnmowers to drills to sewing machines
  • Entertainment, toys and leisure equipment – headphones, TV monitors and consoles
  • Personal grooming appliances such as hairdryers, shavers, and curling tongs
  • TVs – the parts and precious materials can be recovered to be used again

Recycling lights and light bulbs

Fluorescent tubes and energy-saving compact fluorescent lamps contain small amounts of mercury – so it’s important to recycle them safely.
LED light bulbs are long lasting and energy efficient. What’s more, all LEDs can be recycled, including strips of LEDs and even broken Christmas tree lights.

Halogen bulbs and old fashioned incandescent light bulbs can NOT be recycled. So sadly these materials cannot be reused. Just wrap them in paper and put them in your general waste bin.

Delete your data

Old laptops, mobile phones and other smart devices contain mountains of valuable data. Before recycling or passing them on, make them safe. The details vary for different devices – but the basic steps are simple.

Step 1
Start by backing up the data from your device and any memory cards. Usually this means saving your photos, contacts and so on to the cloud or to a personal computer.

Step 2
Next, wipe all personal data from your device, and reset to original settings. This is called a factory reset. The manufacturer’s website will tell you how to do this.

Step 3
Finally, remove any SIM and memory cards from the device.

Where to recycle in Orkney

If decluttering at home or work, please sort your unwanted electricals and donate them to Restart Orkney, to help your local community and the environment.

You can drop items off at the Restart Orkney shop, 66 Junction Rd, Kirkwall KW15 1AR

Opening times are usually:
Monday to Friday – 10am to 4.30pm
Saturday – 10am to 4pm
Tel: 01856 87 9777

Electrical items can also be dropped off at the Household Waste Recycling Centre in Hatston.

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