Recycling electrical goods could be done at kerbside and drop-off points in shops

Discarded electrical items

Kerbside collections for small electrical goods such as toasters and hairdryers could be rolled out across the UK from 2026 under government proposals to boost recycling.

Ministers are also considering drop-off points in shops where households can recycle unwanted items for free.

Retailers would also be made to collect unwanted larger electrical items when delivering replacements.

Customers would no longer be charged for collection on delivery services.

Many retailers, such as B&Q, John Lewis and Currys, currently offer a paid-for collection service for large electrical appliances when customers buy a similar item.

The reforms are part of the government’s plans to boost recycling, as it found 155,000 tonnes of smaller household electricals such as cables, toasters, kettles and power tools are wrongly thrown away each year.

About 500 tonnes of fairy lights are discarded at Christmas in the UK, the government estimates.

Ministers will engage with manufacturers, retailers and small businesses throughout a 10-week consultation, which opened on Thursday.

Recycling minister Robbie Moore said the plans would ensure goods avoid being needlessly thrown away.

“Every year millions of household electricals across the UK end up in the bin rather than being correctly recycled or reused,” he said.

“This is a sheer waste of our natural resources and has to stop.”

He added the level of household waste produced over the Christmas period highlighted the need for change.

The government will also consult on ensuring vape suppliers fund collections of single-use products to avoid them ending up in landfill, although this will not necessarily see them entirely recycled.

Nearly five million vapes are now thrown away every week – almost four times higher than last year, it said.

A recent study on public attitudes found more than 77% of householders would view a retailer as more environmentally responsible if they knew they offered an electrical recycling service.

The Environmental Services Association’s executive director welcomed the plans, saying it could make it “simpler and more convenient” for households to recycle electrical items at home.

Jacob Hayler added: “On behalf of those operating recycling centres and kerbside collection services, we welcome the opportunity to contribute through consultation and help create an effective system that delivers on its intended outcomes and works, not just for householders, but for obligated producers and retailers too.”

The range of measures are proposed within the joint UK government, Scottish government, Welsh government and Northern Ireland Executive consultation.

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