Householders ‘Hoarding’ Unused Electrical Items

Hundreds of thousands of electrical items may be sitting unused in homes across the country, research by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) has suggested.

RSC surveyed 2,353 individuals asking them about their habits around keeping old electrical items such as mobile devices, laptops and computers or MP3 players.

The research found that as many as 51% of UK households have at least one unused electronic device in their home. 45% said that they had between two and five unused devices.

The Society says the study highlights concerns over the future availability of elements commonly found in electrical items, such as tin, gold, tungsten and tantalum – which may be scarce in coming decades.

But, the survey also comes at a time when there are questions about how to capture a greater volume of old electrical goods for recycling, in light of failure to hit WEEE collection targets in recent years.

Commenting on the study, Robert Parker, chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said: “Chemical scientists are already working to find ground-breaking solutions – by investigating long-term substitutes for rare elements in devices, or by finding new chemical methods to extract precious materials and reuse them – but we all can and must do more.

“As individuals, reuse and recycling are the best options available to us, but even if recycled it is still extremely difficult to recover some of these elements from unused devices.”


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