Currys, the UK’s largest omnichannel technology retailer, has moved the nation’s e-waste problem into sharper focus with the announcement of a new ‘Long Live Your Tech’ commitment. Aimed at tackling e-waste, the new commitment educates, supports and helps consumers to make more informed choices when buying and disposing of tech.
According to Currys, the UK is facing into an e-waste perfect storm as reliance on tech grows and the nation’s e-waste problem booms. Unwanted electrical and tech waste is now the fastest growing waste stream both in the UK and across the globe. One of the world’s largest producers of tech waste, the UK generates up to 23.9kg per head and throws 155,000 tonnes of electrical waste in household bins every year.
Yet the spend per capita on tech continues to grow, the role it plays in consumers’ lives is increasing and demand for 40% of new tech purchases is driven by a desire to upgrade. Often regarded as having a limited life, tech products are often discarded and replaced within a few years of purchase, creating e-waste that could go on to have a longer life.
Raising awareness of the issue, Currys’ new ‘Long Live Your Tech’ commitment is rooted in encouraging in-market consumers to not only consider the sustainability credentials of any new or upgraded purchases but to also contemplate how they dispose of old electronics. Building on Currys’ position as the number one retail recycler of e-waste, ‘Long Live Your Tech’ brings together its existing sustainability initiatives, such as the launch of a Go Greener range, with new ones like the UK’s first ever recycling scheme that gives a monetary reward for unwanted tech.
Currys collects, on average, 5,500 tonnes of unwanted tech every month and is hoping to surpass that in the coming weeks as its ‘Long Live Your Tech’ commitment launches with a ‘Cash for Trash’ initiative, running from 16th March to 15th April 2022. A tech industry first, this event calls on UK consumers to take any unwanted electronics to their nearest Currys store in exchange for a monetary voucher*. Additional activity includes a series of offers, money-back schemes and discounts, including a £100-off turbo charged TV trade-in deal, with further ‘Long Live Your Tech’ initiatives to be introduced in the coming months.
The retailer is also the headline sponsor of Waste Week 2022, working with organisers Wastebusters to call on the 17,800 schools in its Pod school network, to take part in a “Hidden Treasure Hunt” competition, which aims to be the UK’s largest collection of e-Waste. As well as raising awareness of Currys’ market leading recycling services, the partnership will also educate young people about the importance of responsible tech disposal.
The move to coalesce its consumer-facing sustainability practices under one easy to understand platform comes after YouGov research commissioned by Currys found that UK consumers struggle when it comes to the disposal of tech. One in five (21%) are unaware of how to dispose of e-waste responsibly and almost a quarter (23%) find recycling unused electronics confusing or inconvenient.
Further research shows UK homes are currently stockpiling an estimated 527 million unwanted electrical items, which if recycled would cut as much CO2 as taking 1.3m cars off the road. Only a third of UK adults recycled their unwanted electricals over the last year an even smaller percentage of the population – just 2% – either mended their electricals or took them to be fixed.
Lindsey Haselhurst, chief supply chain officer at Currys comments: “At Currys we recognise the pressing need to improve our use of resources and create circular business models, which is why we are a leader in extending the life of technology through our repair, recycling and reuse programmes.
“The UK is heading into an e-waste perfect storm with tech playing an increasingly important role in our everyday lives, yet consumers are struggling to understand how to dispose of it responsibly. And while there is a lot of noise when it comes to our plastic usage, our consumption of fast fashion and our approach to food waste; tech, despite being so integral to how we live – keeping us fed, entertained and connected – is often forgotten about.
“As the UK’s largest tech retailer, helping our customers enjoy their technology means, as well as assisting them in choosing shiny new amazing tech, we must support them in giving a longer life to the tech they already have. By bringing together and extending our sustainability programmes under our ‘Long Live Your Tech’ commitment, Currys is making the recycling, repairing and rehoming unwanted tech so much easier for those customers who want to do the right thing when it comes to e-waste but don’t know where to start.”
When it comes to taking a circular approach to the products it sells, Currys has always been ahead of the curve, offering a repair service to its customers for the past 40 years. Today, the UK &I operation checks and repairs one million products a year and Currys operates Europe’s largest electronic repair centre, ensuring its customers can continue to enjoy their amazing technology for longer. In 2020, the retailer collected 62,000 customer products through its trade in operation and 253,000 used and refurbished were products sold, with products to the value of £9m donated for reuse. The retailer also provides a free in-store take back for all electronics and was the first UK retailer to offer a free small e-waste collection service as part of an existing home delivery service.