Electrolux has launched a scheme to make vacuum cleaners from floating rubbish – by harvesting the plastic floating in our seas.
The ‘Vac from the sea’ initiative will collect plastic drifting in seas and oceans around the world, then send it to be modelled into a handful of vacuum cleaners. Any plastic that can’t be used will be sent to recycling plants.
Although there are hundreds of different types of plastic, all of them can be recycled – even if they’re not collected directly by your council. Our online recycling guide provides advice on recycling plastics, as well as a video guide on how to improve your recycling.
Volunteers and experts involved in Electrolux’s programme have already started to collect plastic debris floating around the coast of Sweden, where everything from fishing nets to oil canisters is being picked up. They have also found UK butter packaging that has drifted all the way from our coasts.
The UK currently recycles or recovers around a fifth of all the plastic we use, although this is set to rise to over a quarter this year. It will take roughly 100 litres of plastic to make each vacuum cleaner and only a few will be made by the plastic that is collected.
We’ve tested 14 other Electrolux vacs – one of which is a Don’t Buy. Find out how they performed in our tests in our vacuum cleaner reviews.
Electrolux has managed to create a vacuum cleaners range made of 70% recycled plastic, but it remains to be seen whether it will reach the ambitious goal of creating a 100% recycled vac.
Which? environmental expert James Tallack says ‘It’s a nice idea, but this is unlikely to be more than a well-meaning piece of publicity for Electrolux. There’s a big difference between efficient systems of collecting plastic waste from businesses and people’s homes and searching for bits of plastic in the world’s oceans.
‘Electrolux is also rather vague about how it plans to harvest the plastic. The carbon emissions involved in transporting this material from different parts of the world back to a central point to turn it into a vac could also be environmentally questionable if this was done on a larger scale.”
Some appliances are greener than others, so there are options for eco-conscious consumers who want to reduce their carbon footprint. Our energy-saving appliances review allows you to compare appliances – such as washing machines, dishwashers and fridge freezers – to see how they performed in our tests.