3 January 2019

Picking up the big problem of small WEEE

SPECIAL REPORT: Electrical retailer Currys PC World is encouraging customers to recycle their unwanted small electrical items when delivery and installation teams visit their homes. Here the company explains how the new free service is aimed at tackling the growing problem of e-waste.

A recent study (see here) highlighted the growing concern that tens of thousands of tonnes of small mixed WEEE is entering the UK waste stream by being discarded in household rubbish bins and burnt. This is echoed in the recent BBC documentary, “The Secret Life of Landfill” which indicated an estimated 4% of landfill waste is e-waste (including batteries).

Small mixed WEEE entering residual waste bins is a growing concern

One of the ways Currys PC World – part of Dixons Carphone group – is tackling this, is through launching a new free small WEEE collection service in conjunction with its home delivery and installation team, Team Knowhow. It will allow customers to get rid of unwanted small electrical items they have around the home by handing it over to the Team Knowhow delivery and installation team free of charge. Collected items will then be brought to regional delivery hubs where it will be collected for recycling.

The roll out comes on the back of a WRAP-funded trial in 2016 (see here) which indicated the potential to collect over 2,500 tonnes of small WEEE per annum via the Team Knowhow home delivery and installation teams.

Convenience

This helps address one of the major obstacles to recycling small WEEE in the UK – the inconvenience of taking an item for recycling. Matt Manning, compliance & recycling operations manager at Dixons Carphone, said: “Small WEEE recycling is an issue in the UK. This is despite all householders being able to take any small WEEE to their local Household Waste Recycling Centre or their local Currys PC World store for free recycling.

“Currys PC World are not part of the Distributor Take-back Scheme (DTS) and as such allow customers to bring in any unwanted WEEE to their stores for free recycling.

“However, given the size of these items, the perceived burden of having to drive to these locations to dispose of something which can fit in a bin or get easily hidden away is greater than the benefit of recycling correctly.”

He added: “Dixons Carphone recently conducted a survey which confirmed that households were nearly five times more likely to put small electrical items (such as phones, hair dryers, kettles) in the bin rather than recycle them via legitimate routes. Small items can easily fit in the bin or consumers are unaware of what do with them and end up being hoarded away in cupboards, garages or attics.

“Whichever way you look at it, they are either being disposed of incorrectly, where potential toxic substances can leak into our environment or not recycled at all, resulting in precious metals and resources not recovered or used in manufacturing new products.”

Commitment

Team Knowhow delivery and installation teams are collecting small WEEE items from households

Chris Brown, head of recycling operations at Dixons Carphone, added: “This is a fantastic opportunity not only for us as a retailer and producer but, most importantly, it offers our customers a convenient free recycling service. It continues to demonstrate our commitment to make it easier for all our customers to recycle with us, both in-store and online.

“We believe as the first retailer to offer such a collection service for small WEEE, it sets the bar on what can be achieved by retailers to help the UK collect more WEEE and ultimately ensure such items are recycled correctly and responsibly.  By offering this super convenient free of charge service, our customers can have peace of mind when it comes to WEEE recycling’’

ERP UK works closely with Dixons Carphone, providing compliance with their extended producer responsibility obligations for batteries, packaging and WEEE.

John Redmayne, managing director of ERP UK, said: “Dixons Carphone’s enthusiasm for engaging with customers and innovating is great to see.

“Too much small WEEE is still not being collected for recycling in the UK – surveys suggest a combination of lack of awareness and lack of convenience – and this exciting new initiative addresses both.”

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