British technology users 'a bunch of wasters'British consumers unaware of technology recycling

25 May 2009

Confusion around how to recycle old electronics has led to Britain becoming a country of technology wasters, according to research from computer manufacturer, Dell

A survey by the company found that one out of two British consumers fail to recycle technology correctly, while the nation’s young are the worst accumulators.

The survey reveals a lack of awareness among consumers of recycling schemes and government initiatives such as the Weee (Waste electrical and electronic equipment) directive.

Tony Juniper, former Friends of the Earth director and independent sustainability advisor, says: ‘These findings show a clear need to drive awareness with consumers around the mounting issue of e-waste and its serious implications to health and the environment.’

Regional differences

Attitudes to recycling do vary by region. Consumers in Scotland and London are found to care more about the implications of improper technology disposal, with 4% of consumers in each location claiming to recycle electronics more than any other category of waste.

According to the findings, regions varied - with 17% of Welsh respondents having never recycled technology. However, a lack of awareness about technology recycling is found to be most apparent in the North East, with nearly 75% of residents there claiming they do everything they can to recycle - but less than 1% recycling electronics.

Recyling mobiles for money

However, separate research suggests that mobile phones could be bucking this trend with competitive intelligence service Hitwise claiming that UK internet searches relating to phone recycling have trebled in the last 12 months.

Hitwise puts this down to a number of companies specialising in phone recycling including Envirofone, Mazuma Mobile and Fonebank – currently the three most popular mobile phone recycling sites in the UK. These sites pay up to £200 to recycle the latest high-end models such as the Apple iPhone and Nokia 5800 XPress Music.

According to Robin Goad, director of research at Hitwise, the increase in searches for mobile phone recycling services is as much driven by financial as environmental concerns.

‘The growth in mobile phone recycling searches has gone hand-in-hand with an increase in online queries relating to the financial benefits of recycling old mobiles. UK Internet searches for terms such as 'recycle mobile phones for cash' and 'recycling for cash' have quadrupled over the last 12 months,’ he says. 

Dell has the following advice for people looking to recycle technology:

  • Learn about electronic manufacturers’ recycling policies by looking for recycling information in the product literature or on the manufacturer’s Web site.
  • Call your local council or council-run recycling centre to establish where they have the facilities in place to deal with electronics
  • Share knowledge and discuss recycling with others
  • Make recycling fun and educational and involve family, friends and neighbours.

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