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Is Currys Fortnite ‘Trash Tycoon’ e-waste project genuine?

UK tech retailer Currys has collaborated with Epic Games’ Fortnite with its new ‘Trash Tycoon’ gaming experience. Is it genuinely educational or is it corporate greenwashing for PR purposes?

The UK’s largest technology retailer Currys has created a new ‘video game experience’ within Epic Games’ Fortnite called ‘Trash Tycoon.’

The game sees players run around a map that visually represents over 880 million unused and broken tech items currently being stored indefinitely in UK homes. Competing with other players, you’ll be challenged to mine and recycle as much trash as possible in exchange for cash and real-world prizes.


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Currys says the project is intended to help educate Gen Zers on e-waste and the value of recycling old, unwanted tech and gaming items. In addition, the company highlights just how bad the UK is at tech waste disposal.

Currys conducted a survey with 1000 UK respondents in December 2023.

According to its own research, 75% of the UK public is ‘currently hoarding unwanted tech in their homes, despite having no use for it’. 35% avoid recycling e-waste due to a lack of information and just under 25% don’t understand how to dispose of old tech in the first place.


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One quarter of those interviewed said they ‘forget’ to recycle all together.

Currys also claims that 44% of Gen Z would be ‘encouraged to recycle more tech if given a cash incentive’ which it offers with its ‘Cash for Trash scheme’. This gives customers a £5 voucher for bringing in old, unwanted, or broken tech into its stores for recycling.

The Trash Tycoon project may appear to be a noble attempt at educating the masses on tech and e-waste, sure, but is it all that effective? Is the incentive to genuinely lower carbon footprints and remove waste, or to give Currys a neat and tidy climate action pledge for investors?

One obvious eyebrow-raising condition of this project is its grand prizes. As part of the competition, players can submit their own, custom-made maps via Fortnite’s level creator using #CurrysTrashTycoon.

The best ones will be hand-picked by Currys, who will then award ‘multiple gaming laptop bundles’ to players of its choosing.

Considering this initiative is supposed to be about reducing e-waste, it seems counterproductive to award people more tech for their efforts. This is all only within Fortnite too, which means no actual waste is being recycled. Aside from raising awareness amongst Gen Zers, Trash Tycoon is creating more e-waste in real terms than it is reducing it.

Epic Games and Fortnite are also questionable brands for Currys to associate with.

While neither is officially endorsing this project, Fortnite recently collaborated with Shell, encouraging players to share maps and livestreams associated with the fossil fuel giant. It was rightly mocked online, but was successful in its marketing reach and engagement numbers.

We even wrote about it at the time for its eye-wateringly obvious attempt to familiarise Gen Zers with fossil fuels.

Currys may have plenty of initiatives to help curb the giant problem of e-waste, but its still one of the largest contributors to the problem in the first place. It produces, buys, and sells the most amount of disposable tech in the UK.

We’re not saying that Currys should be condemned for trying to educate kids on the seriousness of tech disposal. There is nothing wrong with doing so, and Fortnite is an effective means of reaching a younger target audience.

What we are saying is that the company shouldn’t be given any particular praise for doing what is, at best, the bare minimum. As mentioned, Trash Tycoon is generating more waste than it is reducing it by offering gaming laptop prizes, and will no doubt benefit the company internally with investors and PR reps.

It’s a start, at least. Far more could be done at the source of the problem to reduce e-waste and Currys has a long way to go before it can be remotely considered a bastion of sustainability.

It’ll take a lot more than Fortnite and a single map to move the needle.