Domestic appliances contain a range of materials that can be separated for recycling and used in new products such as plastics and precious metal including gold copper, aluminium and steel.
Some electrical items contain many different parts which, once recycled, can be used again in a variety of products. For example, the copper motor in a hover mower can be turned into winding wire for motors in new electronic products such as fridges and vacuums cleaners.
In fact, these recoverable raw materials are so valuable that when you discard them. instead of reusing or recycling them – the nation discards 155,000 tonnes of them every year– it costs the UK economy £370 million. So, it makes sense that you know how to recycle your large appliances (washing machines, fridges…) and the small ones (hairdryers, toasters, coffee machines…) when these products come to the end of their (first, or second, or third…) life.
Help those in need
Of course, if you know your item can be recycled but it’s still in working condition, you might choose to donate it instead. National charities such as British Heart Foundation collect electrical items, as do some of the smaller local charities. They welcome electrical items that are suitable for re-sale, as they can generate precious funding for their charity.
Large appliances are usually found in kitchens or utility rooms and include fridges, freezers, washing machines, dishwashers and tumble dryers.
Retailers to the rescue
Luckily for you (and the Earth!) retailers must provide a way to take back and recycle your old appliance, regardless of brand, when you buy a new version of the same item, within 28 days. Many retailers offer a pick-up scheme, where your old product is collected at the same time as a new one is delivered and/or installed. This can be free or come with a small charge for transport. Some retailers provide free, in-store recycling schemes too or as an alternative. Appliances Direct, Argos and Currys all have recycling schemes for large appliances but check individual retailer for specific details as it varies.
Council to collect!
Some local councils offer collections schemes that cover large appliances. This might include a fee. To apply for special collection of large waste items, visit the https://www.gov.uk/collection-large-waste-items and enter your postcode to get started.
Recycling takes centre stage
Council-run recycling centres also usually accept large appliances if you are able to take your machine there. This is a free service but before you make the trip, check if you need to book a slot or take proof of address. For an overview of nearby donation points, you can enter your postcode on the Recycle Your Electricals website.
Small appliances can be found all around your home. These include blenders, coffee machines, clothes steamers, dehumidifiers, kettles, food mixers, air fryers, fans, hair dryers, irons and toasters. If one of these products have come to the end of its life, and cannot be repaired you need to recycle it and there are various ways you can do this.
Retailers champion recycling
If you are buying a replacement appliance, retailers are obliged to take in old products of the same type, regardless of brand, within 28 days of you purchasing the new appliance. With small appliances, the best method usually is an in-store recycling scheme, which are always free, and are offered by retailers such as Argos, Currys and Robert Dyas.
Keep it local
Otherwise, many local authorities offer kerbside collection (these small items need to be put in a carrier bag and placed next to your waste or recycling bin on collection day) and some now have small electricals bank in residential areas. Or if your local council isn’t able to collect your small appliances you can take them to a recycling centre. Before you make the trip, check if you need to book a slot or take proof of address. For an overview of nearby donation points, you can enter your postcode on the Recycle Your Electricals website.