These days nothing should go to waste when an appliance comes to the end of its useful life. Any electrical item that has a crossed-out wheelie bin symbol (shown below) can be recycled.

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Domestic appliances contain a range of materials that can be separated for recycling and used in new products such as plastics and precious metal including gold copper, aluminium and steel. Some electrical items contain many different parts which, once recycled, can be used again in a variety of products. For example, the copper motor in a hover mower can be turned into winding wire for motors in new electronic products such as fridges and vacuums cleaners. In fact, these recoverable raw materials are so valuable that when you discard them. instead of reusing or recycling them – the nation discards 155,000 tonnes of them every year–  it costs the UK economy £370 million. So, it makes sense that you know how to recycle your large appliances (washing machines, fridges…) and the small ones (hairdryers, toasters, coffee machines…) when these products come to the end of their (first, or second, or third…) life.

Help those in need

Of course, if you know your item can be recycled but it’s still in working condition, you might choose to donate it instead. National charities such as British Heart Foundation collect electrical items, as do some of the smaller local charities. They welcome electrical items that are suitable for re-sale, as they can generate precious funding for their charity.

Large appliances

Large appliances are usually found in kitchens or utility rooms and include fridges, freezers, washing machines, dishwashers and tumble dryers.

Retailers to the rescue

Luckily for you (and the Earth!) retailers must provide a way to take back and recycle your old appliance, regardless of brand, when you buy a new version of the same item, within 28 days. Many retailers offer a pick-up scheme, where your old product is collected at the same time as a new one is delivered and/or installed. This can be free or come with a small charge for transport. Some retailers provide free, in-store recycling schemes too or as an alternative. Appliances Direct, Argos and Currys all have recycling schemes for large appliances but check individual retailer for specific details as it varies.