Bright pink bins for electrical waste have resulted in nine times more e-waste being collected for recycling, say councils.
Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service, a partnership between Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council, installed the new collection banks last year in a bid to reduce the hundreds of tonnes of electrical items that end up in black bins.
Executive councillor for Climate Action and Environment at Cambridge City Council, Cllr Rosy Moore said: “We’ve collected over 49 tonnes of small electrical appliances, from toasters to telephones, since the new banks were put in place – that’s about the same weight as seven African elephants, and 44 tonnes more than the previous year. We’re really pleased that more people have been able to easily recycle these items, which are full of vital materials like copper and lithium, closer to where they live.”
Electrical items cannot be put into kerbside recycling bins, and with Cambridgeshire households throwing an average of 4kg of electrical items away in their black bins each year, this adds up to around 500 tonnes (that’s around 70 African elephants) of e-waste which could have been recycled. The pink banks are suitable for collecting most small items which have a plug or a battery, including phones, toys, kettles and many more.
The unwanted small appliances are sorted for re-use and recycling by specialist company Wiser Recycling in Thetford. 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 are dismantled into 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 those items into new substances or products.
International E-Waste Day falls on Saturday 14 October, highlighting this fastest-growing global waste stream, with events taking place around the world.
Lead Cabinet Member for Environment Services at South Cambridgeshire District Council, Cllr Henry Batchelor said: “As on many weekends in our area, there is an event tackling e-waste from a different angle happening in our district on 14 October: a community Repair Café. These fantastic events run by volunteers are doing their bit to keep small household appliances like lamps and vacuum cleaners operating for longer, so they don’t end up in bins. We really need to repair and maintain our electrical goods and I would urge everyone to get along to their local Repair Café, and to support local repair businesses, before recycling and replacing any appliance.”
Where can I recycle e-waste?
You can find all locations for recycling electrical items, including the pink bins, at www.recycleyourelectricals.org.uk
Where can I find a Repair Café?
You can find upcoming pop-up Repair Café events at www.cambridgecarbonfootprint.org/repair-cafes/