Cash in your attic? Old gadgets worth £762m binned

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

But are we throwing away money – and a chance to be green? Tom Bawden finds out

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 needlessly 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 springing up 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 of their 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. Tesco offers a more comprehensive service, paying cash for 3,000 different products including kettles, toasters, irons and flat screen televisions – although it pays in loyalty points rather than cash.

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.

Jonathan Porritt, founder and chairman of Forum for the Future, a charity dedicated to sustainable business, added: "In such difficult times, with austerity the order of the day, sustainability keeps on delivering real benefits for customers, communities and shareholders."

The research is the latest example of how Britain is failing to take advantage of the opportunities to recycle valuable materials. Last month, it emerged that the country is exporting 15 million tonnes of industrial waste a year – about half of it valuable scrap metal – because it doesn't have sufficient facilities to recycle them. The waste exports are so large that they make up a sixth of Britain's total exports by volume.

O2 will today pledge to introduce a far-reaching set of measures to make its business more sustainable. These include a pledge to halve the CO2 emissions of its network and to help reduce the volume of carbon emitted by itself and its customers by 4 million tonnes a year. The company is also considering expanding the range of electronic gadgets its recycling centres will buy to include laptops, tablets and speakers.

Cashing in: What are they worth?

Where do I recycle?

Tesco Extra: You can take your gadget to your local branch of Tesco Extra or send it to the retailer in return for Clubcard loyalty points. tescoelectricaltradein.com

 

Asda: Post your damaged or fully-functioning gadget to the supermarket and receive cash (in the form of a cheque). tradein.asda.com

 

Boots: You can post unwanted but functioning electronic gadgets in to Boots and receive Advantage Card loyalty points. bootsrecycle.com/consumer/

 

Sainsbury's: Send your working item into the supermarket chain and receive a cheque. sainsburysrecycle.com/HowItWorks.aspx

 

O2 Recycle: Post your working or broken item to an 02 retail outlet or post it to the company and receive cash. o2recycle.co.uk

 

Local authority: The schemes tend to vary across the country. To find out how it works near you, try http://local.direct.gov.uk/LDGRedirect/index.jsp?LGSL=851&LGIL=8

Sport
Brazilian fans watch the match for third place between Brazil and Netherlands
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: Dutch pile on the misery in third place playoff
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
'Deep Breath' is Peter Capaldi's first full-length adventure as the twelfth Doctor
TVFirst episode of new series has ended up on the internet
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

    C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

    £60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

    PHP Web Developer (HTML5, CSS3, Jenkins, Vagrant, MySQL)

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: PHP Web Develo...

    JavaScript Developer (Angular, Web Forms, HTML5, Ext JS,CSS3)

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: JavaScript Dev...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
    Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

    Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

    The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
    Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

    Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

    The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

    Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

    Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

    Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

    The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
    The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

    The Open 2014

    Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?