Co-op trials WEEE buy-back service

The Co-op launched a trial of kiosk-style ‘pods’ at 20 London stores earlier this month, enabling shoppers to sell electronic devices such as phones, tablets, and smartwatches.

Technology supplier Spring says the pods can accept 14,000 different types of device

To use the service, shoppers enter details of their device on a touchscreen and place it in the pod via a letterbox. Once technology supplier Spring receives the device, it checks it, sends a quote, and pays the shopper within two to five days.

Spring says it will ensure any devices are recycled if they cannot be reused. The company told that it carried out the “full recirculation” of devices themselves.

Mark Matthews, the Co-op’s director of innovation and format, said: “Co-op is committed to operating at the heart of local life and creating value in our communities – we are working to develop new ways to provide added services and choice, conveniently.

“Our partnership with Spring will make it easy for consumers to recycle or reuse their electronic devices locally and prevent unnecessary waste.”

While Spring is initially trialling the service in London Co-ops, it says further locations in Manchester, Leeds, Brighton, and Birmingham are “to follow”.

Spring told that it was unable to disclose any details of any revenue the Co-op received via the scheme.

14,000 devices

Spring says it is able to accept 14,000 different types of device. While the pods are currently only installed in supermarkets, Spring says that, because they can be fitted anywhere with a plug socket, they foresee them appearing in more varied locations in the future.

Because the pods can be fitted anywhere with a plug socket, Spring foresees them appearing in more varied locations than just supermarkets in the future

The company says it has “ambitious plans” to work with other retailers and have more than 250 pods across the country in the next 12 months, getting around 100,000 devices back into circulation.

Investors in Spring include Mat Braddy, the former chief marketing officer of JustEat, and former Sainsbury’s CEO Justin King.

Tom Williams, Spring’s co-founder, said: “Creating a circular economy is key to living more sustainably, and that’s why we’re aiming to get almost 100,000 devices back into the world over the next year.

“Spring makes it easy for both retailers and consumers to recirculate old tech, which not only puts money in their pockets but also has a major impact on the environment.

“Starting with Co-op, hundreds of Spring pods will be popping up at retailers around the country in the coming months.”

Soft plastic

The buy-back service for electronic devices is just one of several sustainability initiatives launched by the Co-op this year. In July, the supermarket launched “Europe’s most extensive” in-store recycling scheme for plastic bags and product wrapping across 1,500 stores (see story).

The soft plastics are sent to plastics recycler Jayplas, with the Co-op confirming that the material will be recycled in the UK.

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