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Does your recycling centre offer reuse options? Join our investigation

A man in a flourescent jacket PAT testing an iron

Last year, we spent a week examining every electronic and electrical device brought into a household reuse and recycling centre in West London. We tested hundreds of devices destined for the recycling shredder. And, shockingly, we found that almost half of them could have been reused instead.

As we noted at the time, while lots of products should be recycled, many shouldn’t be anywhere near the recycling bin. Instead they should be living a longer, or a second life in the hands and the homes of people that can use them. By focusing exclusively on recycling, we’re wasting more than we need to. Based on this study, we estimated that over 30,000 perfectly reusable small electrical and electronic products could be “wasted” in recycling skips at Household Waste and Recycling Centres (HWRCs) – every week.

Our experience in West London left us with a lot of questions. But one that’s stuck with us is this…

How many HWRCs actually offer reuse options for electrical devices in the UK?

We know that in some parts of the UK, waste authorities and waste management companies are testing out ways to separate reusable items from waste. We’ve even seen some of these in action. But industry insiders tell us that reuse remains rare, especially for electronic and electrical products. If true, this means we’re missing a huge opportunity to reduce waste and make the most of the products we have.

Right now, it’s hard to assess the state of reuse because there is surprisingly little public information about how common these initiatives are across the country. So now we plan to look into this ourselves and we need your help!

Help us answer this question

We’re looking for volunteers to join us on a deep dive into the world of Household Waste and Recycling Centres. Together we’ll investigate how many offer opportunities to reuse products, and we’ll have conversations with the staff on the ground about their work and the barriers they may face to moving beyond just recycling.

Don’t worry if you don’t know anything about waste management yet. We’ll brief you on everything you need to know.

All you need to take part is an internet-connected device and a sense of curiosity!

If you’d like to learn more, come along to our information session on the 30th of May 2024: register here.

4 responses

  1. James LaBarre

    Here in NY State (Pawling) our town’s “transfer station” (where you would bring junk and recyclables) definitely doesn’t do electronics recycling. They have a container you put your electronics into, and they outright have a sign saying you aren’t allowed to take anything out. So they are definitely just scrapping and not refurbishing.

    1. James Pickstone

      Thanks James, that’s interesting to hear. Our hunch is that a lot of equivalent sites here in the UK take a similar approach..

  2. Jane B aka "Luce Salvage"

    I’m more than happy to help …I have a ‘direct line’ to Veolia’s community outreach team at Southwark’s “Integrated Waste Management Facility” (that also processed ‘waste’ from The City of London)

    1. James Pickstone

      That’s great, thanks Jane! I see you’ve completed the form too, so we’ll be in touch soon!

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