26 Million Brits Create Waste Mountain of Appliances

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The Homeserve survey revealed that over the past five years, 26.3 million households have dumped unwanted white goods, such as fridges, freezers and washing machines, rather than getting them recycled or repaired.

A survey conducted in May 2008 by Homeserve, a leading home emergency repair and insurance provider, has shown that there is a growing problem of electrical waste in the UK, with 43% of these electricals being appliances. This is an escalating 'Green' problem, but the good news is it can be easily solved.

The Homeserve survey revealed that over the past five years, 26.3 million households have dumped unwanted white goods, such as fridges, freezers and washing machines, rather than getting them recycled or repaired. Just 29% of people interviewed said they had gained the professional advice of a qualified tradesman before adding their appliance to the scrapheap. Homeserve believes that this high figure is undoubtedly related to the fact that 24.4 million people surveyed did not have any Insurance Cover in place for repair of the appliance -- they will shortly be launching Kitchen Appliance Protection to cover as many appliances as customers choose.

The following facts highlight the problem:

1. Over the past five years, 26.3 million households have dumped unwanted white goods, such as fridges, freezers and washing machines.

2. Two in five people (38%) take their unwanted white good to their local tip.

3. 1.65 million people in the UK have a discarded white good sitting around their house or garden.

4. 30% of Brits admit to disposing of a white good that was still in working order. 5.41 million people said they'd got rid of a white good because they either fancied an upgrade to a better model (15%) or because they were having their kitchen refurbished (3%).

5. Only 1 in four people (27%) said they have recycled or donated their unwanted white good to another person over the past five years.

Reasons people cited for disposing of an appliance:

Reason / Number of People
My old appliance had stopped working / 21.1 million
I wanted a better model / 2.99 million
Moved home and no longer needed / 1.50 million
Saw a better deal and decided to upgrade / 1.37 million
Cosmetic reasons eg replacement of kitchen / 1.04 million
Was offered a new / second-hand appliance by friend or family / 705,000
Was left a appliance by previous owner / family member but didn't need / 673,000

Jon Florsheim, Chief Executive of Homeserve Membership, said: "We believe our research shows that there is still a lot of work to be done around changing the mindset of people towards the recycling of their appliances -- and indeed persuading people to at least attempt to repair these goods before adding to the appliance waste mountain."

Ten months on from the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive coming into effect, Homeserve's research shows that there is still a long way to go to curb the problem. Electrical and electronic waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the UK, with around 1.8 million tonnes generated every year.

The good news is that a quick fix by an Appliance Technician is less of a fuss that people might have thought. Our statistics also show that a half of all white goods can be repaired cost effectively.

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Melissa Fletcher
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