Have you had a clear-out and discovered a secret stockpile of old electronicsYou’re not alone... The UK produces an average of 25kg of electronic waste, or e-waste, per person, every year. This is everything from alarm clocks to smartphones and everything in between. They are often kept unused, taking up space in our drawers for years.  

But this forgotten tech is much more than ‘waste’ and definitely isn’t worthless! The energy saved from recycling million laptops is equivalent to the electricity used by more than 10,400 UK homes in a year.*  

Many of us are unaware that old or broken electronics can be recycled and as a result, only 20% of electronic waste gets recycled. In fact, the UN sees e-waste as the fastest growing waste stream. 

If you've got a spare working smartphone, you could gift it to someone isolated by the lockdown with our Community Calling campaign.


For everything else, it's time to get back to the manual and learn how to tackle our tech! Here are our 5 easy electronic steps. 

1) Start by sorting

Start by sorting out everything you've found, using our handy flow chart, and then follow the tips to find out more about what you can do with each item.  

2)  Make it last 

Are cables fraying your nerves? Low battery life driving you batty? We learnt a few things from this list from USwitch to help our tech last longer. Here are some simple things to do to help your smartphone live a long and happy life: 

  • Not letting the battery run flat or sit with the charger in all day can help your battery life stay long for longer.  
  • If, understandably, you’ve become a germaphobe, make sure you’re cleaning your phone properly. Wipe your phone using a soft cloth and don’t use harsh cleaning or antibacterial chemicals to wipe your touchscreen as it can damage the touch screen. 
  • Protect your phone with a durable case and use a screen protector to keep dust, dirt and scratches away from your screen.
  • Unless your phone is water-resistant, or you have a protective case then keep it away from moisture and water – this includes sweat when exercising! 

If you’re bored and indoors, why not try these crafty hacks to prevent cables from fraying. 

3) Reuse: Redistribute your tech  

Trade for Cash  

For smart technology like phones, laptops and watches, its very important to clear your data off before donating, selling or recycling. There are a number of sites online that will purchase these devices, even if they are old and broken, because the materials inside are still valuable! Compare and Recycle offers a comparison tool for offers for phone models from different recycling and refurbishing companies. Working higher-value devices can also be sold to shops like Computer Exchange. 

For household items, you could try selling them yourself on online auction sites. For cables, search to find scrap metal collectors in your local area, some offer a free collection service and payment by weight.     

Gift a connection 

If you upgraded your phone in the last couple of years and still have your old model at home, join Hubbub’s #CommunityCalling. You could gift your spare phone to help people without phones to connect with loved ones and reach essential and local services during lockdown and social distancing. 

For household tech, the British Heart Foundation accepts donations of working electronics with plugs. Working items can also be given away on local reuse networks like Freecycle, Freegle Streetbank or even Facebook Marketplace.  

4) Repair and care 

Sometimes, there are simple fixes we can do ourselves, like repairing lost feet on laptops and fixing snapped headphones. 

But for more complex issues we recommend taking your tech to an expert! If you‘re ready to start learning about repair and want some know-how for repairing, here is a guide for beginners.  

If the Repair Shop has got you hooked on bringing back items from the brink, you could visit experts in a nearby by Repair Cafe or Repair Parties. However, please consider gatherings like these are likely to be postponed for some time, so keep a hold of your electronics until these events are up and running again.   

5Recycle your tech 

If your old household tech doesn’t pass the test and is worse for wear, its best broken down for recycling to reclaim the materials. But knowing what is and isn’t recyclable is tricky.  

Household batteries contain heavy metals including lead, mercury, cadmium, zinc, manganese and lithium. These metals can be reused, however millions of batteries end up in landfill where they go to waste and cause damage to the environment. Find your nearest battery recycling point here. 

For sorting electronics, RecycleNow says the item can be recycled if it: 

  • Has a plug 
  • Has batteries 
  • Needs charging 
  • Has a waste icon with a wheelie bin crossed out 
  • Don’t forget your wires and cables – these can contain copper, steel and aluminium.  

But where to put them?  As most councils don’t accept small electrical items in kerbside recycling the best option is a household recycling centre. Another reliable option is libraries and larger supermarkets which usually accept smaller electrical items. Currys/PC world also offers a free recycling service for smaller electronics whether you bought it in-store or not.  

Some local authorities accept small electronics in kerbside recycling. Find out what to do in your area by entering your postcode here 

We recognise that recycling centres and shops may not be open at the moment, be very busy or be operating at a lower capacity, so for now please hang on to your electronics until they can be recycled properly. 

Hardcore, want more?

If you've finished sorting out all your tech, here are some tips on sorting out clothes too! 


*10,405 UK homes calculated from the following sources: