Half of Brits don't recycle old electronics

The UK certainly doesn't deserve a gold star for its high-tech recycling. A brown star, maybe.
The UK certainly doesn't deserve a gold star for its high-tech recycling. A brown star, maybe.

The UK is sitting on a mountain of WEEE, according to a new survey by Dell. It asked 5000 people across Europe what they do with their old electronics, and only half of consumers in Britain recycle them properly.

Once more, it is our old nemesis, Germany, that can hold its head up proudly, with four out of five responsible Germans recycling old gadgets.

In awareness levels of manufacturers' recycling schemes and government initiatives such as the WEEE Directive, the British are also the least aware of initiatives and legislation compared to consumers in Germany, Italy, France and Spain.

Bottom of the high-tech recycling league

In fact, when it comes to understanding the importance of correct technology recycling, UK consumers claim to be more influenced by the media (hey! That's us! Go recycle stuff!) than by government legislation.

There are also pronounced regional differences within the UK. Sixty per cent of respondents in Yorkshire and the Humber had never heard of the WEEE directive, while in the North East, nearly three quarters claim they do everything they can to recycle – except that less than one percent recycles electronics.

In the capital, it's the opposite story, with nearly one in twenty Londoners claiming that they recycle more electronics than other form of waste (four times the national average).

There is one glimmer of hope, while the British are less informed about the correct procedures for electronics recycling, show little interest in recycling initiatives and are generally ignornant of relevant legislation, the level of British consumers who claim to regularly recycle paper, plastics and glass is actually higher than the European average.

Mark Harris is Senior Research Director at Gartner.