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How to Dispose of a Vacuum Cleaner in the UK (Step-By-Step)

Written by James Hall |

How to recycle a vacuum in the UK

If your vacuum cleaner is broken, or you’re upgrading to a newer model, then it’s important to recycle it correctly. Here’s a quick guide to getting rid of a vacuum in the UK.

How to Recycle a Vacuum in the UK

You can dispose of a vacuum cleaner in the UK by taking it to your nearest recycling centre that handles electronics. Alternatively, retailers must offer in-store takeback services if you are buying a similar product from them. This applies even if you bought the old product from a different retailer.

Why is it Important to Recycle a Vacuum Cleaner?

There are millions of vacuums replaced each year in the UK. It’s vital for the environment that these vacuums – along with other broken or unwanted electronic devices – don’t end up in landfill.

When thrown away, electronic items may leak hazardous materials. This can cause contamination to nearby water and soil. Aside from the dangers of electronic materials, the large quantity of household appliances that enter landfill also requires a lot of space.

Fortunately, it’s usually easy to recycle a vacuum cleaner, which is much better for the environment.

How to Dispose of a Vacuum Cleaner

Every vacuum cleaner should be properly recycled. Doing so is straightforward and makes sure you’re doing your bit to help the environment.

Step 1: Are You Sure Your Vacuum Needs to be Replaced?

Before you spend money on a new vac, it’s worth checking that your vacuum really needs to be replaced. Many “broken” vacuums actually just need some basic maintenance!

Here are a few of the most common issues:

  • If the vacuum has lost suction, check that the bag or canister isn’t full, make sure the hose is clear, and give the vacuum a full clean to resolve any blockages.
  • If the vacuum has started emitting an unpleasant odour, you might need to clean and sanitise it. Replacing the filter could also help.
  • If the vacuum is battery-powered and won’t charge, you may need to replace the battery. This is a simple matter of swapping the battery with some vacuums, while others need to a professional to replace the battery. Check the manual to find out.
  • If the vacuum doesn’t seem to be cleaning at all anymore, check that the cleaner belt hasn’t broken by (carefully) looking underneath the floorhead while the vacuum is on. Replacing the belt is usually an easy task and much cheaper than buying a new vac.

Step 2: Understand the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive has applied to European countries since 2007. It provides rules for how retailers and manufacturers should approach disposing of old products. While the WEEE doesn’t apply to individuals, the rules it provides make it easier to recycle your old vacuum cleaner.

Under the WEEE directive, retailers must either take old items from customers in-store, or offer a collection service (regardless of where the old product was purchased.) You have 28 days to use this service after buying a new vacuum from a retailer.

This only applies if the retailer is selling you a newer version of a similar product though (in this case, a new vacuum cleaner.) The brand of the product doesn’t matter, but the type of product must serve the same function. For example, Argos offers an in-store recycling scheme for all electronic items when you’re buying a similar product.

So, if you’re buying a new vacuum cleaner from Argos (or another retailer,) then you should ask them how to use their take-back scheme.

Recycling Other Electronic Goods

The WEEE Directive applies to nearly all products that have either a battery or a plug. Aside from vacuum cleaners, this includes household appliances, tools, electronic grooming products, and smaller household items. It also applies to laptops, smartphones, and printers.

Step 3: Recycle Your Vacuum!

You should never put a vacuum cleaner in your home’s recycling bin. It needs to be recycled correctly to minimise the impact on the environment.

The easiest way to recycle your old vacuum is to take it to your nearest recycling centre. The Recycle Now website makes this simple, as you can select “Vacuums,” enter your post code, then find a list of the nearest centres that can recycle your old vacuum cleaner.

Alternatively, if you’re buying a new vacuum, ask the retailer about their take-back scheme or collection service.

Companies often charge for collection, but using their services will save you a trip to the recycling centre or store. In-store take back must always be free. Remember, the take-back scheme applies to any similar type of product – it doesn’t need to be the same brand or model.

There are also some other options for recycling your vacuum cleaner:

  • If you’re upgrading your vacuum cleaner and the old one still works, consider selling it on second-hand sites such as Facebook Marketplace. This prevents any waste and could provide you with some extra cash!
  • Some larger retailers are now taking old electronic items even if you’re not buying from them. Currys is one example. This is a fantastic service that we wish was provided by more companies!
  • Are there any vacuum repair stores in your local area? These businesses are often willing to take old or broken vacuums, as they can be stripped down and used for parts. They may even be able to repair your old vacuum if you tell them about the problems you’re having.
  • Your council may provide a collection service for recycling electronic items. Check your council’s website for more information on their recycling services.
  • Some charity shops may take a vacuum cleaner that still functions. Make sure you give the vacuum a full clean beforehand, as it’s not fair to give a charity a dirty or clogged vac.

Summary

Vacuum cleaners should always be recycled, as electronics are bad for the environment when sent to landfill. Fortunately, there are several simple options when recycling a vacuum.

Many recycling centres accept electronic goods, so this is often the first place to check. If you’re buying a new vacuum from a retailer, then they should offer in-store takeback of your old vacuum cleaner.

Do you have any questions about disposing of a vacuum cleaner in the UK? Let us know in the comments section below.

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