Recycling household appliances

It is an understatement that the benefits of modern technology are numerous, allowing people to multitask, to improve their living standards and undertake certain activities much faster, such as household and gardening chores or cooking. Communication and access to information have also improved greatly.

There is only one problem - as improvements are continually being made to household appliances by manufacturers, older appliances are usually discarded and replaced with new and better ones. That could create a major waste problem, unless most items were recycled, which is precisely the goal of the current environmental campaign.

Recycling household appliances

Recycling electronics

After being discarded, all appliances using electrical energy are considered electronic waste, which is deemed perilous and should not be taken to landfill. Depending on its components, it is sometimes unsafe for e-waste to be broken down by anyone lacking the proper skills.

The disposal of such waste is very strictly regulated in many countries. If you opt for a disposal facility which collects the items from your home, there is usually a fee involved, for transportation costs. An emphasis should be placed on making sure the recycling facility is trustworthy and complies with all legal requirements.

Small electronics

Small electrical appliances used in a household will generally belong to one of these categories:

Kitchen utensils – toasters, blenders, coffee makers, juice extractors etc.

Home entertainment devices - VCRs, cassette/CD players, digital boxes, speakers, radios etc.

Communicational and recording devices – mobile phones, telephones, cameras etc.

DIY tools – various power tools.

Gardening equipment – chainsaws, electrical sheers, power washers etc.

Personal hygiene appliances – hair trimmers, hair straighteners, electric toothbrushes etc.

Mobile phones

Mobile phones are fairly brittle and often lost, therefore the demand for them is always expanding; they are sold and bought worldwide in huge numbers. In fact, a person can easily end up owning a few at a certain point in time, even though it is unlikely for more than one to be used. Since the demand cannot be reduced, a few efficient recycling schemes are operating at the moment, some initiated by manufacturers themselves or by companies seeking to purchase used phones.

If used mobile phone owners are not convinced by the environmental campaign, the financial incentive is definitely more persuasive. The amount of money they receive for their old phones seems to be equitable as these schemes are very popular.

White goods

White goods is a generic term for household appliances which are largely made from pressing steel; these include refrigerators, freezers, washing machines and many more. Since the largest components of white goods are panels and plates of pressing steel of relatively small thickness, they are easily recycled into new similar items.

If the unit you want to dispose of is in working condition and could be used by someone else, the best option would be to donate it to a charity which accepts this type of products, for it to be given to people in need. If it is no longer functional or is severely damaged, you should enquire about specialised disposal schemes and find the nearest one to your location, where you can deposit your items for recycling.

What is particularly important about devices such as older refrigerators, air conditioners or heat pumps, is that they contain a very toxic substance referred to as Freon, which must be extracted by professionals before the items are broken down into smaller parts. When released into the atmosphere, Freon has a very strong impact on the ozone layer protecting the Earth, small quantities sufficing to cause significant damage. The danger of potential exposure should not be taken lightly.


A great number of households across the UK benefit from the use of at least one computer. Unlike other devices which are still used if they do the job, computers are sought after in their more advanced versions, as they include updates and innovative features yearly. Most people seek to periodically replace their computers with newer models.

Computers incorporate materials such as ferrous metals, plastic, non-ferrous metals, glass and electronic boards, which are recyclable. When you want to dispose of an old computer, the first thing to do is evaluate its state in order to determine if it could be used by somebody else.

Whatever you choose to do with it, it is advisable to check that all your personal data has been permanently erased from the hard drive and could not be recovered by somebody else in the future. You can then donate the computer or computer accessory, return it to the manufacturer (when that option exists) or take it to an e-waste recycling facility, where it will be handled responsibly. In a bid to preserve the environment, or perhaps simply as a part of an efficient marketing campaign, some companies even collect these items from households completely free of charge.

Vacuum cleaners

When a vacuum cleaner breaks down, the tendency is to replace it immediately as it is an intensely used appliance and it is needed almost daily. Repairing it instead of disposing of it is always an option, especially if the number of damaged parts is very limited or if it results more cost effective compared to buying a new one.

However, akin to computers, vacuum cleaners improve steadfastly in terms of quality on a regular basis, newer models providing enhanced air filtering, a more lightweight construction or using less energy. Therefore, many people prefer replacing old vacuum cleaners with new and improved models.

Some manufacturing companies accept old hoovers; some even take differently branded ones. If this solution is unavailable, an e-waste disposal facility will take this type of device. Vacuum cleaners can incorporate a variety of materials, such as metals (especially aluminium), rubber and various types of plastic. These are all recyclable.


A government-backed boiler recycling incentive has been in place for quite some time. It involves encouraging people to recycle their old, inefficient boilers by offering them 400 pounds towards the acquisition of new, more efficient ones.

Having an A rated boiler instead of a G rated one is beneficial in many ways, as it helps save energy, which besides being environmentally responsible, also reduces the owner’s electricity bill by up to a few hundred pounds yearly.

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Did You Know?

spacer According to Defra, each person in England produced an average of 457 Kilograms of waste in 2009-10. Of this, an average of about 181 Kilograms per person was recycled. That left 60% of un-recycled waste, at an average of 276 kilograms per person.

From Protect Our Environment