Almost £14 billion of old devices gathering dust in UK homes, claims report


  • A third of Brits holding onto old, unwanted devices for two to three years  
  • One-fifth of the nation not aware of tech trade-in for cash services
  • Glasgow, London and Cardiff residents sitting on highest value of unused tech

Brits are hoarding almost 150 million old, unused mobile phones and other tech devices worth a staggering £13.9 billion, according to new research from Mazuma.

The independent survey of 2,000 UK adults showed that more than a quarter of the nation (27%) are holding onto two old devices, a further fifth (19%) have three and 17% even have four or more.

The research, conducted by the UK’s tech recycling service Mazuma, found that a third of the population (33%) have been storing unused devices for two to three years, while a further 16% have done so for four or more years.

Concerns about data security (20%) and worries about needing to use the device again (17%) were revealed as key reasons for holding onto old mobile phones and other devices.

Storing old devices as ‘back-ups’ is particularly the case among Gen Z (16 to 24 year olds), with one in five of this age group (21%) doing so compared to just one in ten of 25 to 34 year olds (11%).

The data showed that residents of some cities are more prone to hoarding old devices, with Glaswegians in particular sitting on a gold mine of old tech, with an average value of £110 per adult – the highest value in the UK.

Nationally, the data showed that the cities sitting on the highest values of old, unused tech per adult are:

  1. Glasgow (£110)
  2. London (£104)
  3. Cardiff (£101)
  4. Birmingham (£98)
  5. Sheffield (£98)

However, even the city with the least redundant tech devices – Bristol – makes up a small fortune of £81 per person on average.

These masses of redundant tech devices may be, in part, due to a lack of awareness about the trade-in options available, with one in five of the nation (19%) saying they have never heard of these services.

According to the data, a further 34% are not aware that these services exist for devices other than mobile phones, and are missing out on the opportunity to trade in tablets, smartwatches, laptops and games consoles.

The research also showed that even those that are aware of trade-in services are often missing out on their benefits, with more than one in ten (13%) of the nation preferring to throw their devices away rather than trade them in for cash.

Says Craig Smith, Managing Director at Mazuma:

“Despite these shocking figures about the number of devices going to waste, it’s great to see that 77% of Brits say they would consider using a service to trade in their old tech in the future.

“Not only is this a huge benefit to your personal finances, with quotes reaching £700+ for a recent iPhone model, but it is also much safer for disposing of your data than simply throwing the device away, as each device is securely wiped prior to recycling.

“It is also much better for the environment, as once devices are thrown away and sent to landfill, they start to breakdown naturally, expelling toxins into the soil and causing devastating effects on ecosystems for many generations.

“With just two more pay days to go until Christmas, many will soon be feeling the pinch of forking out for presents and other festive expenses, so now is the perfect time to dig out those old devices that you don’t use anymore and trade them in for some extra cash!”

Chris Price
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