- Currys predicts e-waste perfect storm, as consumer reliance on tech grows and UK e-waste booms
- Only a third of UK adults recycled their unwanted electricals over the last year. Just 2% mended their electricals or took them to be fixed
- UK’s most hoarded pieces of tech are mobile phones (54%), cameras (49%), speakers and headphones (40%)
- UK homes currently stockpile an estimated 527 million unwanted electrical items, which if recycled would cut as much CO2 as taking 1.3m cars off the road
- 21% of UK consumers are unaware of how to dispose of e-waste responsibly
- Activity launches with first UK nationwide recycling scheme to give customers a monetary reward for e-waste
- Currys’ reinforces leadership position in extending the life of tech, through circular economy programmes
Global Recycling Day 2022. Currys, the UK’s largest omnichannel technology retailer, today moves the nation’s e-waste problem into sharper focus with the announcement of a new ‘Long Live Your Tech’ commitment. Aimed at tackling e-waste, the new commitment educates, supports and helps consumers to make more informed choices when buying and disposing of tech.
According to Currys, the UK is facing into an e-waste perfect storm as reliance on tech grows and the nation’s e-waste problem booms. Unwanted electrical and tech waste is now the fastest growing waste stream both in the UK and across the globe. One of the world’s largest producers of tech waste, the UK generates up to 23.9kg1 per head and throws 155,000 tonnes of electrical waste in household bins every year.
Yet the spend per capita2 on tech continues to grow, the role it plays in consumers’ lives is increasing and demand for 40% of new tech purchases is driven by a desire to upgrade3. Often regarded as having a limited life, tech products are often discarded and replaced within a few years of purchase, creating e-waste that could go on to have a longer life.
Raising awareness of the issue, Currys’ new ‘Long Live Your Tech’ commitment is rooted in encouraging in-market consumers to not only consider the sustainability credentials of any new or upgraded purchases but to also contemplate how they dispose of old electronics. Building on Currys’ position as the number one retail recycler of e-waste, ‘Long Live Your Tech’ brings together its existing sustainability initiatives, such as the launch of a Go Greener range, with new ones like the UK’s first ever recycling scheme that gives a monetary reward for unwanted tech.
Currys collects, on average, 5,500 tonnes of unwanted tech every month and is hoping to surpass that in the coming weeks as its ‘Long Live Your Tech’ commitment launches with a ‘Cash for Trash’ initiative, running from 16th March to 15th April 2022. A tech industry first, this event calls on UK consumers to take any unwanted electronics to their nearest Currys store in exchange for a monetary voucher*. Additional activity includes a series of offers, money-back schemes and discounts, including a £100-off turbo charged TV trade-in deal, with further ‘Long Live Your Tech’ initiatives to be introduced in the coming months.
The retailer is also the headline sponsor of Waste Week 2022, working with organisers Wastebusters to call on the 17,800 schools in its Pod school network, to take part in a “Hidden Treasure Hunt” competition, which aims to be the UK’s largest collection of e-Waste. As well as raising awareness of Currys’ market leading recycling services, the partnership will also educate young people about the importance of responsible tech disposal.
The move to coalesce its consumer-facing sustainability practices under one easy to understand platform comes after YouGov4 research commissioned by Currys found that UK consumers struggle when it comes to the disposal of tech. One in five (21%) are unaware of how to dispose of e-waste responsibly and almost a quarter (23%) find recycling unused electronics confusing or inconvenient.
Further research shows UK homes are currently stockpiling an estimated 527 million unwanted electrical items, which if recycled would cut as much CO2 as taking 1.3m cars off the road. Only a third of UK adults recycled their unwanted electricals over the last year an even smaller percentage of the population – just 2% - either mended their electricals or took them to be fixed5.
Lindsay Haselhurst, Chief Supply Chain Officer at Currys comments: “At Currys we recognise the pressing need to improve our use of resources and create circular business models, which is why we are a leader in extending the life of technology through our repair, recycling and reuse programmes.
“The UK is heading into an e-waste perfect storm with tech playing an increasingly important role in our everyday lives, yet consumers are struggling to understand how to dispose of it responsibly. And while there is a lot of noise when it comes to our plastic usage, our consumption of fast fashion and our approach to food waste; tech, despite being so integral to how we live – keeping us fed, entertained and connected - is often forgotten about.
“As the UK’s largest tech retailer, helping our customers enjoy their technology means, as well as assisting them in choosing shiny new amazing tech, we must support them in giving a longer life to the tech they already have. By bringing together and extending our sustainability programmes under our ‘Long Live Your Tech’ commitment, Currys is making the recycling, repairing and rehoming unwanted tech so much easier for those customers who want to do the right thing when it comes to e-waste but don’t know where to start.”
When it comes to taking a circular approach to the products it sells, Currys has always been ahead of the curve, offering a repair service to its customers for the past 40 years. Today, the UK &I operation checks and repairs one million products a year and Currys operates Europe’s largest electronic repair centre, ensuring its customers can continue to enjoy their amazing technology for longer. In 2020, the retailer collected 62,000 customer products through its trade in operation and 253,000 used and refurbished were products sold, with products to the value of
£9m donated for reuse. The retailer also provides a free in-store take back for all electronics and was the first UK retailer to offer a free small e-waste collection service as part of an existing home delivery service.
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For further information please contact:
Corporate Press Office: [email protected]
1In the Environmental Audit Committee’s Electronic waste and the Circular Economy report, it states:
- The UK is one of the world’s largest producers of e-waste, with 23.9kg produced on average, per head
- There’s 190,000 tonnes equivalent to 527 million of small old unused electronical items hoarded by UK households
2 Further growth in 2022, in the tech consumer goods market following two years of growth during the pandemic, predicted in GFK Retail Panel research
3 Trinity McQueen, Consumer Needs and Frustrations, September 2020: Decision to buy 40% of TVs, computers and games consoles is driven by upgrade need or want.
4 Research conducted by YouGov and commissioned by Currys. Total sample size was 2091 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 18th - 21st February 2022. Survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 16+).
5 Research conducted by YouGov, commissioned by Material Focus. Total sample size was 2112 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 24th – 25th February 2020.
Notes to editors
*£5 voucher for any old tech. If the tech has a higher trade-in value, the customer will receive that.
Long Live Your Tech initiatives, available to customers across the UK include:
- Recycling - helping customers get rid of their old tech and legitimately disposing of it in a safe and responsible way. Customers can have old items collected free of charge when a new product is delivered or simply drop off any tech for free instore.
- Trade-in – Trade in an old device in, when upgrading, to receive savings and monetary incentives off newer tech
- Repair – Before customers label something as rubbish, one of Currys many experts see if it’s repairable – even if it wasn’t purchased from Currys
- Care & Repair – Seven-day fix-it-fast promise, to keep tech in a good condition so customers can keep hold of it for longer.
- Cash for Trash - Terms and conditions can be found at: https://www.currys.co.uk/terms-conditions.html
Currys plc & sustainability
- Launched first-ever nationwide polystyrene store take back initiative in 2021
- Highest available rating, an A, by global environmental non-profit CDP, for its leadership in corporate sustainability in tackling climate change.
- First European technology retailer to have its climate goals approved by the Science Based Target initiative as it pledged to reduce its scope 1, 2 and 3 greenhouse gas (GHG)emissions by 50% by 2030. It is also committed to be net zero by 2040.
- First electricals retailer to sign up to The Climate Group’s EV100 initiative, which will see it transition to a fully electric or alternative fuel fleet by 2030.
- Part of the British Retail Consortium’s Taskforce on Climate Action, which developed a ground-breaking decarbonisation plan that will help the retail industry reach Net Zero by 2040, ten years ahead of the Government’s 2050 target.
- Joined the Circular Electronics Partnership to further promote industry action by sharing its expertise on giving tech a longer life through design, repair, recycling and reuse, improving use of resources and creating circular business models.
About Currys plc
Currys plc is a leading omnichannel retailer of technology products and services, operating online and through 832 stores in 8 countries. We Help Everyone Enjoy Amazing Technology, however they choose to shop with us. In the UK&I we trade as Currys; in the Nordics under the Elkjøp brand and as Kotsovolos in Greece. In each of these markets we are the market leader, employing 33,000 capable and committed colleagues.
Our full range of services and support makes it easy for our customers to discover, choose, afford and enjoy the right technology for them, throughout their lives. The Group’s operations are supported by a sourcing office in Hong Kong, state-of-the-art repair facilities and an extensive distribution network, enabling fast and efficient delivery to stores and homes.
Our vision, we help everyone enjoy amazing technology, has a powerful social purpose at its heart. We believe in the power of technology to improve lives, help people stay connected, productive, healthy, and entertained. We’re here to help everyone enjoy those benefits and with our scale and expertise, we are uniquely placed to do so.
We’re a leader in giving technology a longer life through repair, recycling and reuse. We’re reducing our impact on the environment in our operations and our wider value chain and we will achieve net zero emissions by 2040. We offer customers products that help them save energy, reduce waste and save water, and we partner with charitable organisations to bring the benefits of amazing technology to those who might otherwise be excluded.