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UK homes hoarding millions of unused gadgets – how many are yours? | Science & Tech News

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It might be time to finally take that Nokia 3310 out of your desk drawer and get the Super Nintendo out of the loft, as UK households have been told they are hoarding too many old and unused gadgets.

Up to 40 million electronic devices are stored away in homes up and down the country, many of which contain valuable and increasingly endangered elements that are going to waste.

Mobile phones alone contain precious materials such as gold, with natural sources of six of the elements that make up such products set to run out within the next 100 years.

:: Scroll down to vote in our poll – what old tech are you hoarding?

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More modern smartphones contain the valuable resource indium, which is vital for touch screens

The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) carried out a survey of more than 2,000 people to find out how much old tech is being stockpiled, and 45% said they had as many as five unused devices.

Some of the most common old pieces of technology lying around are mobile phones and laptops.

Most said they had no plans to recycle them, although 59% said they would be more likely to make the effort if they knew the elements contained within were so precious.

Among the materials are indium, which is vital for touch screens because it conducts electricity and is transparent, and so-called “conflict elements” like tin, gold, tungsten and tantalum, which are sourced from areas where battles and child labour are often a routine part of their mining.

:: What unused gadgets do you have at home?

RSC chief executive Robert Parker said: “We need action now – from governments, manufacturers and retailers – to make reuse and recycling much easier, and we must enable a new generation of chemistry talent to help.

“The UK has a tremendous opportunity to become a world leader and set an example for other nations to follow.”

He added: “Chemical scientists are already working to find ground-breaking solutions – by investigating long-term substitutes for rare elements in devices, or by finding new chemical methods to extract precious materials and reuse them – but we all can and must do more.

“As individuals, reuse and recycling are the best options available to us, but even if recycled it is still extremely difficult to recover some of these elements from unused devices.”

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