Millions of unused mobile phones, DVD players and unwanted TVs are living in British households – as owners haven’t got round to sorting them out

A study of 2,000 adults found properties across the country are acting as storage centers for old tech items, because owners haven’t gotten around to sorting out their belongings.

A study of 2,000 adults found properties across the country are acting as storage centers for old tech items, because owners haven’t gotten around to sorting out their belongings.

Of those polled, 39 percent currently have unused electrical items in their home, including 3.5 million discarded iPods, nearly 4.7 million unused headphones and 4.6 million retro VCR players.

Reasons for holding on to outdated tech include keeping them as spares in case their current item breaks (17 percent), hoping they can get it fixed (11 percent) and not knowing how to get rid of them (nine percent).

The research was commissioned by Virgin Media O2, which has teamed up with environmental charity, Hubbub, to launch the Time After Time e-waste fund for community groups and organizations to run projects that tackle e-waste and promote circularity.

It also revealed that the most unused items were found to be mobile phones (23 percent), DVD players (16 percent) and TVs (13 percent).

Items being outdated (15 percent), no longer having a need (14 percent) and being broken or faulty (12 percent) are among the reasons electrical devices aren’t used.

But these gadgets are typically held onto for six years, and kept in cupboards (30 percent), attics (25 percent) and garages (22 percent).

Despite this, 31 percent claim to be concerned about the impact of e-waste on the planet, but 25 percent don’t know where their nearest electronic recycling point is.

Nicola Green, from Virgin Media O2, said: “It’s staggering how many old, unused, and outdated gadgets like phones, VCR players and USB sticks are gathering dust in drawers, lofts, and garages across the country.

“We know that people are worried about their old tech ending up in landfill and the impact it’s having on the planet.

“That’s why we’ve launched the £500,000 Time After Time fund with Hubbub to fund eco projects that tackle e-waste and help old devices to be used again and again.”

E-waste is a pressing environmental issue

The study also found 51 percent of adults don’t think enough is being done to tackle the problem of e-waste, while 21 percent feel guilty for not recycling old unused electrical items.

Nearly four in 10 (38 per cent) have taken an old or unused device to the tip, and 32 per cent have thrown them away with household rubbish.

While 28 percent plan to donate goods to charity and 24 percent hope to sell them when they get around to sorting out their unused electrical items.

But more than half (53 percent) still have personal data on unused electrical devices, including photos (52 percent), emails (40 percent) and work-related documents (26 percent).

And 44 percent don’t know how to wipe such data from items they no longer use.

As a result, 34 percent worry about their personal information being stolen or shared if they were to recycle a device.

It also emerged those polled, via OnePoll, would be more encouraged to recycle tech if it was easier (46 percent), they knew where to take them (43 percent) and if they could do so from their own home (30 percent cent).

While 73 percent would help a local community group by recycling their old electrical items if they could.

But 56 percent argued that there is not enough information widely available about how to dispose of e-waste in an ethical way.

Gavin Ellis, co-founder of Hubbub, said: “E-waste is a pressing environmental issue and we’re encouraging organizations to apply for this funding with projects that remove barriers and help people to extend the life of their old electricals by repairing, passing them on or recycling them.

“Organizations can apply for grants between £10,000 to £75,000.

“We’re urging people to spread the word about this funding which could have a significant impact.

“If you know a charity, social enterprise, local authority or community organization running e-waste initiatives then do point them in our direction to apply for this financial support.”

Top 20 unused electrical items in UK households

  1. Mobile phones – 14,701,968
  2. DVD players – 7,114,752
  3. TVs – 6,142,032
  4. USB sticks – 5,641,776
  5. Radios – 4,724,640
  6. Headphones – 4,669,056
  7. Printers – 4,585,680
  8. VCR players – 4,585,680
  9. Laptop – 4,446,720
  10. Microwaves – 4,446,720
  11. iPod – 3,501,792
  12. Cameras – 3,335,040
  13. Stereo players – 3,112,704
  14. Landline phone – 3,112,704
  15. Tablets/iPads – 2,918,160
  16. Computer keyboards – 2,834,784
  17. Cassette player / portable CD player – 2,723,616
  18. Computer mouse – 2,779,200
  19. Vacuums – 2,501,280
  20. Computer monitors – 1,945,440

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