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Retailers prepare for taking back electronic devices in store for recycling


A communications toolkit is now available to help retailers comply with imminent changes to the law that will oblige them to accept consumers’ old electronic devices in store for recycling. From 1st January 2021 all retailers of large physical electrical and electronic products will be obliged to follow the new rules. 

To help retailers, Material Focus, the not for profit organisation behind the “Recycle Your Electricals” campaign, has developed a Retailer Communications Toolkit, in collaboration with the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) (part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)). The toolkit has been tested with a range of  businesses to help ensure consistency across all consumer communications relating to retailer take-back of electrical and electronic equipment.

“The Recycle Your Electricals Campaign has also recently launched a Recycling Locator, to make it easier for UK households to recycle their devices.  The locator currently has 2,500 recycling points in the UK which accept electricals.  We are working with large retailers who will be taking back electricals from January 2021 to add their store locations to the locator.  We encourage any retailers that haven’t yet contacted us to do so as soon as possible to ensure their locations are added in time for January 2021,” said Vanessa Gibbin, Marketing & Behaviour Change Lead.

Electrical waste is now one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world, and in the UK.  The retailer take back scheme has been set up to help address the issue of electrical waste by making it easier for UK householders to recycle their electricals. From January all large physical electrical and electronic retailers that sell over £100,000 of electricals per annum will be expected to meet the following requirements:

  • ●  Minimum requirement – retailers will need to accept old electricals that they sell on a like-for-like basis, meaning if you buy a charger from your local electrical retailer then you can drop off your old one there
  • ●  For some electrical and electronic retailers – they will go over and above the basic requirements and will accept more electricals eg. some retailers accept any old electricals at any store for recycling, regardless of whether you bought a new electrical item there or not.
  • ●  Brands with multi-site stores selling a variety of different products may need to communicate differently in different stores, and should ensure that store staff advise consumers, that larger goods can only be returned to specific stores.
  • ●  Online only retailers and smaller electrical and electronic retailers will join in January 2022.

Vanessa Gibbin, Marketing & Behaviour Change Lead at Material Focus said:  “We’ve worked with OPSS to develop this toolkit of communications to help ensure consistency and clarity across all consumer communications relating to retailer take-back. Most consumers know that recycling is the right thing to do, but we need to make it clear and simple for them to know exactly how to do that. Waste electricals are the fastest growing waste stream in the world, so this is a great opportunity for the UK to reduce their impact on the planet.”

The following editable communication materials have been included the toolkit to ensure retailer communications comply with the regulations:

  • Strut card at till
  • In-store poster
  • Point of sale reminders
  • Website content 
  • Window decal
  • Till prompt
  • Packaging options
  • Online point of sale messaging
  • Key points for staff training

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