Over the past year, a staggering 471 million small, budget-friendly electronic gadgets, often referred to as ‘FastTech,’ ended up in UK landfills.
According to research conducted by Material Focus, findings indicate that in the UK during 2022, electronic devices were being bought at a staggering rate of 16 items every single second.
The FastTech gadgets that ended up in the dump include 4.8 million miniature fans, 9.8 million USB sticks, 26 million cables, 29 million decorative, LED, and solar lights, and a whopping 260 million disposable vapes.
The scale of the challenge has been revealed for the first time by the non-profit organisation and, shockingly, more FastTech is thrown away than Fast Fashion with an estimated 30 per cent of clothes discarded versus 90 per cent of FastTech.
Similar to Fast Fashion, people buy small, relatively cheap items – £4 (AED20) on average per electrical item – that they see as dispsoable. When they no longer work, many people simply throw these items in the bin, however what they don’t know is that these items contain valuable recyclable materials like lithium, copper and stainless steel that can be used in medical devices, wind turbines and electric cars.
‘FastTech is seriously rivalling Fast Fashion, and is causing similar headaches, said Material Focus Executive Director Scott Butler. ‘But as FastTech items are quite cheap and small, people may not realise that they contain valuable materials and will just pop them in the bin, meaning we lose everything inside them instead of recycling them into something new.
‘People should think carefully about buying some of the more frivolous items in the first place.’
Material Focus found that the average household in the UK had four to five chargers, two to three remotes and the same number of cell phones.
It called the FastTech items ‘the tip of the iceberg’ compared to the overall electronic waste in the UK with more than 110,000 tons of electronics thrown away annually, and 880 million items sitting unused in homes across the UK.
A survey of 2,000 people found that each year, the average adult in the UK buys nine cheap electronic products and disposes of eight of them. The most commonly trashed items were handheld vacuums, mini speakers and step counters.
The group has compiled an online tool to guide people to nearby recycling locations.
‘We want to get the message across that anything with a plug, battery or cable can be recycled and there’s somewhere near you to do it,’ Butler said.