Reuse your electricals

Guidance for getting the most from your household gadgets, tools and appliances

What is Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment?

Icons of electricals

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) is generally any item that is discarded with a plug, battery or cable including:

  • Small household appliances
  • Large household appliances
  • TV and display equipment
  • Household and garden power tools
  • Audio and AV equipment
  • Smart devices and IT
  • Lighting
  • Toys and leisure equipment
  • Personal grooming appliances
  • Some medical devices
  • Vapes
The problem with waste electricals

A pile of waste electricals

Discarded electricals are one of the fastest growing sources of waste in the world, costing the UK economy £370 million per year in lost valuable raw materials such as gold, copper, aluminium and steel. Incorrect disposal of electrical items can also cause serious health, environmental and societal issues.

Research from Material Focus shows the average UK household has 20 unwanted electricals that are going unused. These could be put to much better use by repairing them, trading them in or donating them to charity. It could save you money or make a difference to someone else.

How to safely repair electricals
Caution: Before making any repairs, please ensure you check the terms of relevant product warranties as these could be impacted. Consider the risks, and health and safety implications: follow your tool manufacturer's operating directions, practice safety precautions (like using proper eyewear etc) and follow any other relevant guidance. If you are unsure or have any concerns, especially when making electrical repairs, please contact a suitably qualified professional.

1. For basic faults with household gadgets such as poor battery life on your smartphone or a slow laptop see these top tips from the Restart Project.

2. For issues you cannot solve yourself, a Repair Café might be the answer. These are community events where expert volunteers repair household items for a small donation. They also offer tea, coffee and sometimes cake! While having your item repaired, you can sit with the repairer and learn how to make the repair yourself next time.

3. If you are handy with a set of tools or just fancy having a go at home, iFixit is a useful resource. You can find free repair guides for a wide range of household devices.

4. Another option is to purchase spare parts from a reputable seller. There are lots of options online and sellers will sometimes offer articles, manuals and videos to help diagnose and repair common faults.

5. For other items, search online, attend a class or visit your local library for guidance.

From July 2021 the ‘Right to repair’ law came into force in the UK. This means that manufacturers must make spare parts for electrical appliances available within two years of all model launches, and then for between seven and ten years after the model is discontinued, depending on the type of product. This currently applies to companies producing dishwashers, washing machines, washer-dryers, dryers, fridges, freezers, televisions and “other electronic displays” for home use.

Rent, borrow or buy

Reducing the amount of electronic equipment we bring into our homes can help reduce the amount of unwanted/wasted electronic equipment we are left with.

Here are some things to consider before buying a new piece of equipment:

  • Can you hire or borrow the electronic item instead of owning it? You might be able to borrow it from a neighbour or hire it from a Library of Things. You can also look into rental options for smartphones and tablets.
  • Buy second hand from a reputable seller.
  • If you do choose to buy something new, make sure it is something that you will use often and is of the best quality that you can afford.

Consider rechargeables

Colourful reusable batteries in a charging case.

To reduce the number of batteries you throw away, consider choosing rechargeable batteries instead of single use ones where possible.

For selling or donating working, but unwanted, battery-powered items follow our guidance below.

How to donate or sell electricals for reuse
Prepare your item
  • Remove personal data from smart devices (see step 6 or follow this link for more information)
  • Remove batteries if safe to do so (i.e. from battery-powered children’s toys)
  • Make sure the item is clean and presentable. It will look its best and you might spot a minor repair that could make all the difference.

Where to donate
  • Some charity shops can accept electricals for reuse – please check before you donate.
  • Online reuse platforms such as Freegle, Freecycle or Olio.
  • Jamie’s Computers are based in Southampton and accept old IT equipment. They even offer a free secure data wiping service.
  • Community Calling – a scheme run by Hubbub which rehomes old smartphones with people who need them.

More ideas for donating can be found on the Recycle Your Electricals website.


Recycle your electricals campaign logo


Where to sell
  • Online marketplaces such as eBay, Preloved or Gumtree.
  • Some retailers will accept your pre-loved devices for resale or refurbishment, search online to find your nearest options.

You may wish to consider the following advice from Money Saving Expert when trading in an old mobile phone.

More ideas for selling electricals can be found here.


Top tips for making a great online listing
  • Make sure you select the right category and state if the buyer needs to collect it or if you offer postage or delivery.
  • Upload as many photos as you can and include pictures from multiple angles, as well as close-ups of any marks or damage.
  • Write a detailed description of the item you’re selling, e.g. dimensions, colour, any brand name or model numbers and age. Be honest about any damage to avoid time-wasting, for you or the buyer.
  • Compare similar listings beforehand to decide on a fair price. Let buyers know if you’re open to offers, or equally if you don’t wish to negotiate. You can always edit it later.
How to wipe personal data

Follow the 3 easy steps to delete your personal data:

1. Back up
2. Factory reset
3. Remove SIM and memory cards

For more details on the procedure see the recycle your electricals campaign.

What to do when all else fails

When your electrical items are beyond repair, please recycle them responsibly via one of the following means (remember to delete your data):

  • Take them to your local Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC).
  • Take them back to your nearest participating electrical retailer where available (check first but some retailers will accept items for recycling even if you’re not buying something new).
Important: Safely remove batteries and bulbs wherever possible and recycle these separately. If you cannot remove the battery from a product that no longer works, the product and the battery should be recycled together with small electricals at the HWRC or waste electricals recycling point.

 Find out what to do with your household waste.