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Homes hoarding 184 million gadgets

Homes hoarding 184 million gadgets

Our homes hold a staggering 184 million pieces of out-of-date tech with a value of more than £7 billion, according to research by Uswitch, the comparison and switching service.

The average household has seven unused gadgets, with almost one in three (28 per cent) hanging onto old laptops, and a similar proportion storing out-of-date TVs (27 per cent) and digital cameras (27 per cent). More than three million are still holding onto old brick-style phones popular in the early to mid-90s.

The nation’s unwanted laptops are worth an estimated £2 billion, while spare televisions could fetch £900 million, digital cameras £2 billion, and DVD players could bring in £133 million].

One in seven (15 per cent) have held onto an old gadget for more than ten years, with nearly a million homes still hoarding a fax machine and almost four million having a video (VHS) player collecting dust.

Nearly two fifths of consumers (39 per cent) say they are holding on to the unwanted tech in case it becomes useful in the future, while almost a quarter (23 per cent) are too lazy to throw it out. About eight million people (19 per cent) say that they haven’t got rid of old gadgets because they are worried about personal data stored on them.

Meanwhile, more than a fifth of people (21 per cent) don’t know how to recycle the device properly, and one in six people (17 per cent) say it’s because the tech has sentimental value to them.

Among the piles of old gadgets are 35 million mobile phones, of which 22 million are smartphones worth an estimated £1 billion.

Auction sites like eBay are often the best place to sell old tech. By using eBay, consumers would receive £285 on average for a pre-owned but fully working iPhone X, whereas using an online marketplace like MusicMagpie yields £220. Trading-in an old device with a mobile network provider resulted in some of the poorest returns, with Three offering only £162 for the same handset.

Table: Value of an iPhone X from various buyers

Vendor Price
eBay £285.33
Music Magpie £220
Carphone Warehouse £180
O2 £170.25
EE £164
Three £162

In general, Apple handsets hold their value best. The average resale value for a once top of the range iPhone dropped only 38 per cent over the course of a year. At the other end of the scale, the popular Samsung A5 fell by a whopping 71 per cent in 12 months.

When buying new tech, only one in six consumers (14 per cent) consider how recyclable the device is, and just one in seven (13 per cent) think about the environmental impact of making the gadget. These considerations fell way behind other options such as how long the device will last (63 per cent) and how well a gadget holds value over its lifetime (18 per cent).

Uswitch is urging consumers to consider donating their old mobile phones to Recycle Your Electricals, which ensures that the valuable metals in each phone are reused. The organisation also helps locate nearest recycling centres to dispose of unwanted electronics.

Scott Butler, executive director of Material Focus, the organisation behind the Recycle Your Electricals campaign, said:“Discarded electricals are one of the fastest-growing sources of waste.

“Many everyday electricals such as mobile phones, TVs, laptops, and baby monitors contain small amounts of precious metals that can be extracted and given new life if they are recycled.

“Recycling your old tech is not only good for the environment, but there is also a huge amount of value in unwanted electricals – whether you sell them so that they can be reused, donated so that someone else in need can benefit, or recycled.

“If you’re having a clear-out, remember that anything with a plug, battery or cable can be recycled. You can find your nearest recycling or donation drop off point by visiting the recycle your electricals website.”

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