UK Government announces plans to make it easier for households to recycle electrical devices and white goods


The Government has unveiled proposals setting out its plans to change how the public can dispose of electrical equipment. 

A 10-week consultation has commenced and proposed measures will be introduced from 2026 that will include: 

  • UK-wide collections of waste electricals directly from households – saving the public from having to trek to distant electrical disposal points. The collections would be financed by producers of electrical items, not the taxpayer, and not necessarily require any further bins.  
  • Large retailers rolling out collection drop points for electrical items in-store, free of charge, without the need to buy a replacement product.  
  • Retailers and online sellers taking on responsibility for collecting unwanted or broken large electrical items such as fridges or cookers when delivering a replacement.  

With an estimated 155,000 tonnes of household electrical devises wrongly thrown in the bin each year, these steps set out a path for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to work closely with manufacturers and retailers to tackle the problem. 

Recycling minister Robbie Moore said: “Every year millions of household electricals across the UK end up in the bin rather than being correctly recycled or reused. This is a sheer waste of our natural resources and has to stop.   

“We all have a drawer of old tech somewhere that we don’t know what to do with and our proposals will ensure these gadgets are easy to dispose of without the need for a trip to your local tip. Our plans will also drive the move to a more circular economy and create new jobs by making all recycling simpler.” 

The proposals also aim to ensure suppliers of vapes address the mounting issue these devices create by funding separate collection of the devices. In addition to the sheer scale of the waste (an estimated 5 million vapes are thrown away each week) vaping devices also present a fire risk in recycling facilities due to the lithium-ion batteries. 

It is estimated potential yearly costs of approximately £200 million is required for collection and treatment to deal with these harmful devices. These proposals will enforce suppliers take financial responsibility of this process. 

The Recycling Association chief executive Paul Sanderson said:  ”We welcome this consultation and take particular interest in the measures to collect vapes. These have been a considerable fire risk and many of our members have reported fires igniting in their facilities because of the lithium-ion batteries contained in them.  

“While on the surface a collection scheme seems like a good idea, we need to ensure that there is no confusion that leads to cross-contamination through people putting vapes in their regular recycling bins. Therefore, it would make sense to have proper communications around the importance of keeping these separate from other materials.”