Resource Use

£750k funding available for new projects to collect waste electricals

Material Focus announces expansion of its Electrical Recycling Fund to find innovative ways to capture WEEE

Bank for collecting waste electrical equipment for recyclingMaterial Focus has announced an additional £750,000 for its Electricals Recycling Fund to support the expansion of UK projects that target the recycling and reuse of small household electrical items.

This news follows previous funding rounds which allocated £1.8 million to more than 40 UK projects, enhancing the ability of over 10 million people to repair, donate, or recycle their unwanted electrical items.

The extension of the Electricals Recycling Fund is intended to facilitate the development and implementation of innovative projects that encourage the recycling and reuse of electrical items, a pressing need identified by the organisation's research highlighting how consumers often choose to discard electrical items, rather than recycle or reuse them. It estimates that 880 million small electrical items are hidden in homes across the UK and 103,000 tonnes annually thrown away.

The fund, which was initially launched in September 2023, has already seen positive results from its previously supported projects. Scott Butler, Executive Director of Material Focus commented: "This additional funding is a testament to the success of the projects so far and shows the commitment to tackling e-waste in the UK. We are excited to continue expanding our efforts and making electricals reuse and recycling easier for more people across the UK."

Among the successful initiatives is the Durham County project, which has significantly expanded its recycling reach. "Since October we have held 10 Repair Cafés and repaired 97 items," said Kieran O’Leary, Policy Officer at Durham County Council.

Material Focus is seeking proposals from a diverse array of organisations, including local authorities, waste contractors, non-profits, and startups, to either develop existing collection services or innovate new methods. The emphasis is on practical, scalable solutions that can lead to significant environmental benefits.

Applications for the fund are accepted on a rolling basis, with no specified deadline. Prospective applicants are advised to  review eligibility criteria and application guidelines available on the Material Focus website.

Examples of previous projects

Material Focus's Electricals Recycling Fund has already enabled a diverse range of projects to flourish from the Orkneys to the Isles of Scilly, and from Norfolk to Derry.

In Durham, the project has made substantial strides by installing 200 recycling points specifically for small electrical items throughout the county. This initiative has successfully recycled more than eight tonnes of electrical waste. Beyond recycling, the project also promotes reuse through monthly repair cafés which have been attended by 115 people and resulted in the reuse of 156 kg of electricals. These cafés not only extend the life of electrical items but also educate the community about the value of repair and reuse.

Elsewhere, in Ashford, the focus has been on engaging the community directly through amnesty and blitz-style electrical collection days, coupled with repair workshops. These events have been well attended, with over 225 participants, resulting in 209 items being donated to the local hospice and an additional 52 items repaired. This hands-on approach not only diverts electricals from landfills but also strengthens community ties to sustainability practices.

ILM Highland has tackled the challenge of recycling in rurally isolated areas by installing seven small electrical recycling banks across the Highland region. These facilities have collected 7.69 tonnes of waste electricals, demonstrating the effectiveness of targeted infrastructure even in less accessible areas.

Newcastle has implemented a comprehensive doorstep collection service alongside pop-up recycling centres, reaching over 300,000 individuals and collecting 1.64 tonnes of old, unused electricals, equating to 1161 items. This approach has proven effective in urban settings where convenience is key to encouraging recycling participation.

In Oxfordshire, an innovative pilot project established the UK’s first vape recycling scheme. This initiative has collected over 10,000 disposable vapes at household waste recycling centres and through a separate dedicated kerbside collection servicing 70,000 households.

Derry and Strabane Council have partnered with Repair Cafe Foyle to host twice-monthly volunteer-run repair cafés. These events not only reduce waste but also support a culture of repair in the area.

The Wastesavers' project in Newport, Wales, focuses on increasing the donation of small domestic appliances. This initiative has collected a significant 38.73 tonnes of small electricals, of which 26.84 tonnes were successfully reused. This project highlights the potential for reusing items and reducing the overall environmental impact of electrical waste.

Each of these projects funded by Material Focus demonstrates the local solutions and community involvement that the Electrical Recycling Fund aims to support.

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