Press Release | 03 Dec 2021

Vodafone encourages the UK to ‘rebox’ its old tech this Christmas as new research says we’re hoarding more than £20 billion of unused devices

British homes contain more than £20 billion worth of unused technology - including old smartphones, laptops and tablets - according to new research from Vodafone.

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  • New research from Vodafone says British households are sitting on more than £20 billion of unused tech, with the average adult not having had a clear-out for over three and a half years.
  • Around 1.5 million households in the UK, approximately 6% of the population, live without internet access. Yet one-in-five Brits do not realise there is an issue.
  • New research says lack of motivation; not knowing how to dispose of tech; and having to wipe personal data are among the top reasons why people leave it so long to sort through old devices.
  • Vodafone’s ReBoxing Day campaign, fronted by radio host and TV presenter Roman Kemp, launches today to encourage people to donate their old, unused mobiles, tablets and laptops to its Great British Tech Appeal.
  • Vodafone will add free data, calls and texts to the donated devices and re-gift them to families and young people who need them through charity partner Barnardo’s.

British homes contain more than £20 billion worth of unused technology – including old smartphones, laptops and tablets – according to new research from Vodafone.

The study found that the average home has old tech worth approximately £813.90 lying around in drawers, cupboards and on shelves. This equates to unused devices worth £20 billion, across the 26.3 million households in the country with access to connectivity. 

And with one-in-three people expecting to receive at least one tech gift this Christmas, and thousands expected to hit the Boxing Day sales to buy themselves new gadgets, these numbers are set to rise. 

The study revealed: 

  • The main reason people keep old devices is in case they might need it one day (30%); whilst one in five (22%) admit it is because they had forgotten about them.  
  • Despite one-in-five (21%) people not realising there is a digital poverty issue in the UK, a third (32%) say they would be happy to give away their old devices if they knew they could make a difference to someone.
  • Most unused mobile phones are less than two years old (30%), followed by three to four years old (20%).

Vodafone has launched its ‘ReBoxing Day’ campaign, to encourage the UK to donate its old tech and return Boxing Day to its original purpose – a day of giving.  

Roman Kemp

Max Taylor, Consumer Director, Vodafone UK, said: “With so much of modern life centred around technology, those who do not have access to it risk getting left behind. Most people have old devices tucked away at home that they know they will never use again.

“That’s why this Christmas we are calling on the British public to help us tackle digital poverty by donating their old devices. Anyone can donate an old device – you don’t have to be a Vodafone customer to take part. We’ll then add six months of free data, calls and texts and gift your old device to those who need them the most.”

Members of the public can visit a special interactive ReBoxing Day experience on London’s Southbank, open from 3 December until 5 December, where they can pledge to donate an old tech device. They will be sent a pre-paid donation bag which they can drop into any Vodafone store or pop in the post.

Radio host and TV presenter Roman Kemp launches Vodafone’s Reboxing Day campaign by unveiling a giant interactive Christmas present on London’s Southbank. The campaign is to encourage the nation to donate their old mobiles tablets and laptops to its Great British Tech Appeal to help tackle digital poverty. Installation is open from Friday 3 to Sunday 5 December.

Barnardo’s Interim Co-CEO Michelle Lee-Izu said: “Many vulnerable children who don’t have access to devices or affordable internet access face huge barriers in accessing education and vital support services. At Barnardo’s, we support some of the UK’s most vulnerable children, and are working with Vodafone to support children and families living in digital poverty.

“As some people upgrade their digital devices this Christmas, we are asking them to consider donating any pre-loved devices to our Great British Tech Appeal so we can get much-needed technology into the hands of disadvantaged children.”

Radio host and TV presenter Roman Kemp, who is supporting the campaign, commented: “Most of us take for granted the ability to connect to one another. The role that devices and connectivity play in all our lives is huge; facilitating everyday tasks such as working, education and simply staying connected with friends and family. I definitely underestimated the number of people up and down the country living without the devices and connectivity they need.

“This Christmas I would urge everyone to search through their drawers and donate their old devices. I’ve made my pledge to donate and it’s a great feeling knowing that soon my unused phone could be making a difference to someone’s life.”

 

ENDS 

Notes to editors 

Families and households in the UK – Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk) 

Digital divide narrowed by the pandemic, but around 1.5m homes remain offline – Ofcom 

1 Vodafone Research polling 2,000 UK adults, 72Point, November 2021. Full research available on request. 

  • A quarter of people (24%) say they found it harder to give away older devices to children or other relatives as they already had their own devices.  
  • Although half (49%) said they didn’t know how to dispose of old technology, a quarter said removing photos and documents from devices is the biggest barrier to sorting through unused tech (25%), followed by a lack of motivation to sort it out (22%).  

Vodafone has a range of projects underway to tackle digital exclusion and connect one million people by the end of 2022 as part of its everyone.connected initiative.

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About Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK is a technology communications company that connects people, businesses and devices to help our customers benefit from digital innovation. Our services span mobile, fixed-line connections, home and office broadband, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

We have a strong track record as a tech pioneer, making the UK’s first mobile phone call, sending the first text message, and making the UK’s first live holographic call using 5G in 2018. We were also the first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester. As of March 2022, we have 5G in 380 locations across Europe – 141 in the UK and 239 across Germany, Spain, Italy and Ireland. Our 4G network coverage currently reaches over 99% of the UK population.

Today, Vodafone serves more than 18 million mobile and fixed-line customers in the UK. To help deliver Gigabit UK, our full-fibre broadband roll-out programme now covers 26 UK towns and cities, rising to 35 over the coming months, through partnerships with CityFibre and Openreach. Our full fibre services are now available to more than eight million homes across the UK.

Sustainability is also at the heart of what we do: as of 1 July 2021, 100% of the grid electricity we use in the UK is certified to be from renewable sources.

For more information about Vodafone UK please visit: www.vodafone.co.uk.

Vodafone UK Media Relations

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