What To Do With Broken Electricals or Those You No Longer Need 03/05/23

By Holly, Mozillion Team

Don’t Bin Them Just Yet

Electrical devices come in many forms and many are alarmingly cheap these days, so rather than get them fixed when they break, we can be inclined to just bin the old to make room for the new.

Aside from the fact that our black bins just aren’t big enough for the amount of fairy lights some households get through, there are some very real environmental concerns when these unwanted electrical items get dumped into landfill which can affect surrounding rivers and ecosystems.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure…

…so the saying goes. Which is why, before you throw it out, it is always worth checking whether, for example, your childhood Nintendo DS could actually be worth a few bob to a collector. The UK has one of the highest levels of electronic waste per person in Europe (second only to Norway) and some of us could genuinely be sitting on a pot of gold.

Is the device broken but could be fixed or worth something?

It is worth having a look on resale marketplace websites, including Facebook Marketplace and eBay as some people will buy broken items for parts or because they can fix it themselves – and you can make yourself some easy money.

You do need to be very clear and honest with what is wrong with the item before you sell it so the buyer is aware or this can affect the sale and your ability to use the site in the future – and of course, you don’t want the buyer coming back to you for a refund!

The other option is to Google your local ‘Repair Cafe’. These are great fun as they are often community run and you can actually repair the item yourself under the guidance of an expert. A great place to take young people to show them that fixing things often seem a lot more difficult than they actually are in practice. You may also find that it is something that you would like to do more of, who doesn’t love the metal-melting power of a soldering iron?

If the device isn’t broken but you just want to upgrade

This is standard and one of the main reasons we replace our smartphones and cars as often as we do – we want something that is faster, bigger, more powerful, more efficient or more fun.

For smartphones, there are many companies that will allow you to ‘trade in’ your old device towards either a new one or offer you cash to trade in. Be wary of these options as they will undoubtedly offer you far less than your phone is actually worth, plus you may have to buy a new device as part of the deal.

You can sell your old device privately on a site like eBay, Facebook, or if it’s a phone, you can sell it on Mozillion instantly. The benefit with marketplaces is that you’re usually selling to a private buyer, so unlike trading in, you’ll get the full value that your product is actually worth.

As an example, selling a phone on Mozillion will bag you up to £180 more compared to trading in, and it’s anonymous too so you don’t have to hand your personal details out to the buyer (as Mozillion handle everything).

For other electricals, there are other resale marketplaces mentioned above but larger items should be sold locally or the postage and delivery charges could well exceed what you made on the item. Facebook Marketplace can be used for selling big items, if you’re happy dealing with people you may not know.

Is the device broken beyond repair?

If the device is beyond repair, then the best thing you can do for your ‘black bin real-estate’, the planet, and your conscience is properly recycle it.

Recycleyourelectricals.org.uk is a super easy-to-use site for this which claims that ‘anything with a plug, battery or cable can be reused or recycled’. It is simply a matter of popping in your postcode and typing in what you need disposing of.

A top tip if using their site, be general with your wording, e.g. type ‘lights’ rather than ‘fairy lights’ – it then uses the keyword entered to locate a relevant recycling point for that category of product, which in this case is ‘Christmas lights’. You are then presented with a list of options including well known stores such as B&Q who recycle electricals, batteries and light bulbs. If you click on the list of what ‘electricals’ actually includes, it is huge and includes items such as chest freezers, answering machines and hedge trimmers – all of which can be recycled safely.

Why should I bother recycling or reselling old electricals?


After years of rinsing out pasta jars, taking bottles to the bottle bank and flattening cardboard, you would be well within your rights to roll your eyes and wonder whether this is just another boring job to add to the list. But have a quick look at the below as you may feel that it is worth it in the long run for our planet, our wildlife and our children, aside from the fact that no-one wants their old, broken, rusted chest freezer out the front of the house for more than 10 seconds.

Benefits of recycling or reselling electricals 

  • You will feel really virtuous afterwards
  • Your black bin won’t fill up so fast
  • You are genuinely making a difference to the health of local rivers, forests and baby badgers
  • You can include the drop off or posting as part your general trip to the shops (to replace and maybe get even more fairy lights)
  • The precious metals get salvaged and reused, saving more being mined
  • It creates jobs
  • It cleans up our air by reducing CO2
  • We are generally a nation of kind, caring, David Attenborough-loving legends that want to make a difference where we can