It's official: we Brits are a nation of gadget hoarders, with thousands of devices lying around our homes unused according to findings by cable firm Telewest.

Each household was found to have an average of £254 worth of disused technology, which adds up to a whopping £5bn worth of gizmos.

But the problem seems to be what to do with this mountain of unwanted devices.

The introduction of the WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Directive will make businesses and individuals responsible for the safe disposal of all electrical goods.

"With technology moving so fast, it's not surprising we have more and more equipment in our homes, but we could be creating a gadget mountain and a tall problem for the future," said David Hobday, sales and marketing director at Telewest.

Eighteen- to 24-year-olds were the worst offenders, with most owning twice as many gadgets as the national average. And none of the respondents in this age group had even considered finding new homes for these orphaned devices.

"People should consider recycling their unused gadgets, even by selling them on online auction sites," added Hobday.

Top of the unused gadget poll came the mobile phone, which is perhaps one of the more dangerous pieces of electrical equipment to dispose of due to its toxic cadmium battery.

But rather than facing the cost of recycling, users would be wise to send their gadgets off to charities.

Many old mobile phones are recycled and sent to developing countries through schemes such as

Larger goods such as laptops and PCs can also be refurbished and put to good use. "End-of-life PCs are worthless to most companies and individuals, but invaluable to school children," said Tony Roberts, director of Computer International. His charity sends unwanted PCs to schools and community groups as well as worthwhile projects overseas.