Throwing away gadgets loses us £762m a year


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The Independent Online

Britons are throwing away a fortune by failing to realise how much their old gadgets are worth, according to new research which shows that more than 17 million devices worth a total of £762m are binned each year.

One in three adults sends a broken or functioning mobile phone, MP3 music player, satnav, games console or digital camera straight to landfill each year, according to mobile phone operator O2 – but the same items would fetch an average of £43.54 if they were taken to one of the growing number of recycling centres across the country.

Although some electronic gadgets contain hazardous contaminants such as lead and cadmium, it is not illegal to send them to landfill. However, against a backdrop of near record – and rising – commodity prices and growing environmental awareness, the pressure is on politicians, companies and consumers to recycle more discarded gadgets.

Sainsbury's, Boots, Asda and Royal Mail are among the companies that pay for used mobiles, satnavs, game consoles, digital cameras and MP3 players, as long as they are in reasonable condition.

Susanne Baker, senior policy advisor on climate change at EEF, the association representing British manufacturers, said throwing away electronic gadgets represented a huge waste.

"Electronic equipment in particular is rich with materials which are in high demand but scarce supply. We know many manufacturers are worried about securing stable supplies of these materials at the right price," she said.