The Ultimate Lost Property Handling & Disposal Guide
Here are NotLost’s top tips to help you handle found items
Do you often wonder what to do with your old lost property? How should you dispose of all those lost items responsibly? Here are a few of NotLost’s recommendations of how to handle and dispose of different items of lost property.
If you have any specific questions, please contact
Cards – bank cards
Credit cards and debit cards are one of the top 3 most common items in lost property. Firstly, you should ensure you use the ‘no image’ option when registering bank cards. This ensures private details are kept confidential and your system is GDPR compliant.
If the lost bank card is not returned to owner, follow our easy best practice guide to sustainably dispose of any plastic card: ‘How to dispose of a credit card – and every other card in a wallet’.
Cash is commonly found in lost property. Cash should be held for a ‘reasonable’ period of time (as determined by your company). If the money is not claimed during this period, you can choose to bank the cash, donate it to charity, or use it to offset the administration costs of handling lost property.
You must be careful when handling confidential documents found in lost property. These could be: a birth certificate, bank account details, legal documents or business documents to name a few. For detailed best practice for handling passports, go here.
Firstly, if you’re able to do so, contact the owner. Ask the potential owner questions about their lost item that only they would be able to answer. If you are not confident you can return a confidential item to the true owner, dispose of it securely. Paperwork should not be binned, it should be shredded properly. Here is a useful guide.
Clothing and textiles
Any manner of forgotten jumpers, hats and blankets are common items of lost property. Firstly, check to see if your local council collect clothing and textiles or if there is a recycling location near you.
On the other hand, charities will happily take any clothing or accessories that are not claimed. Items that are generally accepted include: everyday items of clothing, hats, empty bags, empty wallets, jewellery & watches. Find your local charity shop here: https://www.charityretail.org.uk/find-a-charity-shop/
Many registered charities offer collection services, such as the British Heart Foundation. Furthermore, some high street chains also run ‘bring back schemes’ such as M&S.
Dangerous items e.g. weapons, explosives, gas, corrosives, drugs, contraband
Although not too common, dangerous items can be found in lost property. You must hand these items into the police or contact your local police station to find out how to do so. A full breakdown of what lost items the police still take can be found in our blog: ‘The definitive guide to lost property laws in the UK’.
Drivers Licence / ID cards
Driving licences are one of the most commonly lost items in the UK. Those that are not returned to owners should be sent untouched to:
A full break down of how to send driving licences can be found here.
For other ID cards, such as university student cards, contact the relevant institution for their advice.
Small, low-value electronics include: phone chargers, portable chargers, cables, portable speakers and more. These can be disposed of through a local recycling facility – find one here: https://www.recyclenow.com/what-to-do-with/electrical-items-0
On the other hand, valuable electronics should be handled differently. These items include: mobile phones, cameras, GoPros & smart watches. All of these hold a lot of personal data thus they should be handled in an appropriate, GDPR compliant way. Therefore, to dispose of these, contact your personal Account Manager at NotLost, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll make sure they are disposed of in a safe manner.
Don’t put old spectacles / prescription glasses in the bin! Glasses can be donated to VisionAid Overseas to provide sustainable and affordable eye care services to those who need it. Alternatively, contact your local optician to see if they accept spectacles.
Sunglasses can be donated to charity.
Both house keys and car keys are commonly lost at venues. Keys can luckily be recycled at most recycling centres. Find your local recycling centre here: https://www.recyclenow.com/what-to-do-with/keys-metal-1
Makeup and cosmetics are common lost property found at some venues, such as festivals or hotels. Makeup can be tricky to dispose of as some ingredients can be harmful to the environment. Whatever you do, don’t wash substances down the sink or flush them.
Firstly, check with your local waste disposal facility to see if they take makeup. If not, follow some of the useful steps in this blog which features some of the brilliant schemes set up by TerraCycle.
Medication / medical items
You must dispose of medication carefully. This may include: tablets or creams, such as analgesics (paracetamol, ibuprofen) or prescription drugs (antibiotics, birth control, antidepressants etc.), epipens or asthma pumps, to name a few. You must not bin or flush this medication down the toilet. This could lead to exposure to children, vulnerable adults and the environment.
Therefore, medication should be taken to a local pharmacy who will dispose of it safely. Find your closest pharmacy here. Give them a call to check they access the item.
Medical equipment can be donated to doctor surgeries or pharmacies – find out more on this blog. Additionally, find out how to donate hearing aids on this blog or on Recycle Now. Furthermore, find out how to sustainably dispose of contact lenses here!
Oyster cards are very common items in lost property in London. Unless they are found in a wallet with other recognisable items, Oyster cards are hard to return.
Send Oyster cards to a charity called the Railway Children. They have partnered with TfL and other major rail companies to make it easy to donate the old funds found on cards to a worthy cause.
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Find out more on our blog: ‘A handy guide on how to secure money from old Oyster cards’
Passports are also very common in lost and found. If they are not claimed, British passports should be sent in the post to the UK Passport Office here:
FREEPOST HM PASSPORT OFFICE
Southport PO BOX 767
Have you found a foreign passport? Find some of the most common nationalities’ embassy addresses on our blog: ‘What to do with an old, lost passport in your lost property’.
These items, such as food or drink, should be disposed of at the end of each working day.