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A plug for recycling electrical waste

News release from 06/03/2020

NEW collection banks to help Greater Cambridge residents recycle more small electrical appliances have been set up in four housing developments.

The banks for old electrical items are being maintained by the Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service – a partnership between South Cambridgeshire District and Cambridge City Councils.

Electrical items can’t be put into residents’ recycling bins, and households across Cambridgeshire throw an average of 2.6kg of them away in their black bins each year. In Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire this adds up to around 320 tonnes of e-waste which should have been recycled.

The new banks have been installed at Glebe Farm Drive, Hawkey Road, Osprey Drive and Fawcett Road on the Glebe Farm, Aura, Trumpington Meadows and Abode developments and are suitable for most small items which have a plug or a battery, including phones, toys, kettles and many more. The banks aren’t suitable for TVs, computers including laptops or large appliances such as lawnmowers though – and all these should be taken to a Household Recycling Centre.

The unwanted small appliances will be sorted for re-use and recycling by specialist company Wiser Recycling. Items that are undamaged, uncontaminated and repairable may be suitable for re-use within the UK. Wiser Recycling comprehensively tests the refurbished small appliances to ensure that they are safe and functional. Items that are unsuitable for re-use will get dismantled into their component parts. Many of those components are also suitable for re-use. For example, screens from broken monitors or power units from laptops. Items that fail the re-use screening are sent to local and national specialist operators who will recycle them into new substances or products.

Recycling e-waste is becoming more and more important as global stocks of materials like silver and lithium which are essential for components in mobile phones and other appliances are under pressure from increasing demand.

Cambridge City Council’s Executive Councillor for Climate Change, Environment and City Centre, Cllr Rosy Moore, added: “We’re looking at where we can place more banks for recycling small electricals so we can collect more of these precious materials. We are working hard to make it easier for residents to recycle as much as possible and these recycling banks are a really positive step forward. At the moment they are only in the newly opened recycling bring sites in the south of the city, however we hope to get some up and running in our long-standing recycling points in the coming year. But remember all residents can use these new banks or if it's easier you can recycle all electricals, big or small, by taking them to a Household Recycling Centre such as the one at Milton.”

South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Environmental Services and Licensing, Cllr Bill Handley, said: “This is a welcome initiative to make it easier for people to recycle. Electrical items often contain a high proportion of recyclable materials and valuable metals such as gold, silver, platinum and palladium can be recovered and re-used rather than ending up in landfill. The more recycling points there are the better, especially if they are close to where people live. Wherever we live, we all can and should make a difference by ensuring we recycle old electrical appliances responsibly.”

Don't lose your spark - tips for electric dreams

  • Do you really need that smartphone upgrade or new gadget? Or could you keep your phone another year, use something you already have, borrow it or buy second-hand? A chocolate fondue fountain probably won’t get used frequently…

  • Look after your appliances and keep them clean so that they work for longer and don’t need replacing. For example, many vacuum cleaners taken to Recycling Centres simply need emptying

  • If your unwanted device still works then sell it, donate it or pass it on. Mobile phone providers offer take-back schemes for recent models, many charity shops are now able to accept small clean electrical appliances (check first) and Facebook marketplace, Gumtree and similar make it easy to pass on or sell to local people

  • If your item has stopped working, see if it can be repaired. Check YouTube to see if there’s anything you can do yourself (it might just need a new fuse!), take it to one of the many Repair Cafes around Cambridgeshire, or contact a local professional repairer

Visit Cambridge Carbon Footprint’s ‘Circular Cambridge’ website www.circularcambridge.org where you can find a list of upcoming Repair Cafes as well as a directory of professional repairers.

Find out more about your local recycling services at www.cambridge.gov.uk/recycling or www.scambs.gov.uk/recycling

Find your nearest Household Recycling Centre at www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/waste-and-recycling/household-recycling-centres