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New Study: A Third of Scots Don’t Know How to Recycle E-waste

Victoria Roberts

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Scottish e-waste
Statistics released by BT reveal that almost a third of Scots don’t know how to correctly recycle electrical waste.

Items such as electronic cables, hairdryers, printers and games consoles ranked top of the list of unused electrical items in Scottish homes. 

Nearly three quarters of Scots, including 76% of Glasweigians and 71% of Edinburgh residents, admitted to throwing electronics into landfill bins rather than taking them to be recycled. 

Over half of Scots (52%) have admitted to ‘wishful recycling’ – the act of throwing electronics into the regular recycling bin in the hope that they will somehow reach the correct recycling centre. 

E-waste is a rising concern across the world, with almost 83% of electrical items not recycled globally in 2019, accounting for 7.3kg of waste per person across the planet. 

These figures come as BT reveals it has recycled nearly a million pieces of its own branded equipment since the start of 2020, preventing nearly 170 tonnes of electrical waste from going to landfill. 

Jane Wood, the BT Group Scotland Director, said: “We made some changes in 2019 that make it compulsory to return broadband routers to us after use, which has really boosted our recycling efforts.”

“Thanks to these changes, and the commitment of our customers, we’ve prevented the release of 11,430 tonnes of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of 6,000 flights from London to Tokyo.” 


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Since 2018, BT has been transitioning to a low carbon business model, and has pledged to become a net zero carbon emissions business by 2045. This is part of their Digital Impact and Sustainability strategy. 

BT estimates that hundreds of thousands of electronic equipment currently in homes could be refurbished or recycled. 

Andie Stevens, the Associate Director at Carbon Trust Advisory, said: “BT makes it easy for customers to return unwanted and unneeded equipment, preventing tonnes of electrical waste and plastic from going to landfill.” 

“The recycling and refurbishment programme is a great initiative, demonstrating the commitment to circularity and achieving long-term sustainability goals by reducing the carbon intensity of products.”

Scots can contact their local authorities or Zero Waste Scotland for information on how to recycle electrical items, or check online for details of local Household Waste Recycling Centres, which recycle small electrical items.

Victoria Roberts

Staff Writer

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