The sustainable electricals action plan will be delivered and facilitated by WRAP to bring together businesses to explore and take action on the significant opportunities that could boost the UK economy. For example, encouraging trade-in of used TVs alone could grow UK GDP by around £800m a year.

Research from WRAP has shown that around 25% of electrical and electronic products discarded by householders at recycling centres were suitable for reuse. If these products were reused and the lifetimes of shorter-life products were extended, the country could save up to 170,000 tonnes of resources, delivering a carbon benefit of around 1.1m tonnes CO2 per year.

The evidence comes from WRAP’s new report Switched on to Value, which brings together extensive technical investigations and new evidence from consumer research, product design reviews and a study of the asset management market. It reveals significant opportunities for businesses and consumers through trading-in used electronic equipment and designing longer life appliances.

It’s estimated that UK householders have at least £1bn worth of electrical and electronic equipment in their homes which is no longer used but still holds significant value. WRAP estimates the UK market value for trading pre-owned equipment could be worth up to £3bn.

Consider this with the fact that only 7% of electricals are currently reused and a third ends up in landfill, and it presents real opportunities for businesses and consumers to unlock that value.

According to WRAP, a market for this business model is evident with two thirds of consumers saying they would be willing to trade-in their technology products such as TVs, tablets and cameras through a reputable retailer.

In addition to this, 55% of those surveyed said they were likely or very likely to buy second-hand technology products. Therefore, if retailers adopt a trade-in model they could meet consumer demand and access new markets by reselling the unwanted items.

The current barrier facing consumers is that more than half said they were unsure or didn’t know where they could trade in. By tackling that issue, and providing a financial incentive to consumers, businesses could improve their bottom line.

As part of the action plan, WRAP is looking to work with companies in evaluating and demonstrating new trade-in approaches. One way for the sector to deliver on this is through design specification for products that last longer.

WRAP’s product design reviews revealed 15 out of 16 products could be improved to deliver significant cost savings and reduced returns through simple changes in the design and production process.

The action plan will encourage the partnerships needed to develop a more robust market for product trading, repair, reuse, and ultimately seek to have products designed for long life and multiple use.

Maxine Perella

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