Currys hits back against government’s £1bn ‘toaster tax’, saying it will hit consumers in the pocket

Electrical retailer Currys is continuing to hit out at the government’s so-called £1bn ‘toaster tax’, saying it’s not the “way forward” and will hit consumers in the pocket.

The criticism follows plans from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to increase the re-use and recycling of electrical goods by ruling that, from 2026, UK retailers will be required to foot the bill for public e-waste recycling.

Proposed reforms of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations will require bigger shops to take back used electrical items – such as toasters – for recycling, even if they were purchased elsewhere.

Helen Dickinson, the chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, has said the new requirements could cost firms “£1 billion or more” per year. Experts say this figure would be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices – a move they are dubbing the ‘toaster tax’.

The government argues these reforms are needed to avoid millions of household electrical items ending up in landfill each year.

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While Currys CEO Alex Baldock has previously criticised the proposals, the retailer is again urging the government to back retailers’ own e-waste initiatives instead.

In a lengthy LinkedIn post, responding to the ‘toaster tax’ claims, Currys services director Stephen Pendleton said: “We don’t think Defra’s current proposed changes to the way we recycle unwanted tech are the way forward and could in fact end up discouraging retailers from doing their bit… with expensive charges – potentially coming in at over £1 billion according to the BRC – burdening consumers as well as retailers.”

The electrical giant pointed to its own work at trying to end e-waste, saying: “We’re passionate about saving tech, and have done so much work in this space to do so: from our Cash for Trash initiative where customers can give us their old unwanted tech in return for a £5 voucher; to our unique trade-in offering; and not to mention our giant Newark repair and recycling facility which processed almost 3 million items of tech last year alone.

Pendleton added: “At Currys we already operate a scaled and successful solution that meets the aims of our customers, the planet and is sustainable for our business.

“We strongly urge the government to focus on harnessing the innovative and competitive nature of the whole retail industry in support of everyone achieving the same position.”

Minsters also want online and high street retailers to provide a free collection service for old appliances, such as washing machines, televisions or fridges, if they were delivering a new one.

Last year, Currys generated £676million in sales through its recycling and repairs services. Under the reforms, it will not be able to charge to collect customers’ used white goods or TVs over 44″, which the business has used to help increase its sales.


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