Cambridge University event recycles electronic waste for free

This week marks the sixth year of Cambridge’s annual electronics recycling event, where students and residents are being urged to drop off broken or unwanted electronics, known as waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), before they are sent on for onward processing.

Hosted by Cambridge Business Improvement District (BID), Cambridge City Council, European Recycling Platform (ERP), and the University of Cambridge, the event aims to raise awareness of the need to recover the precious resources inside electronic items.  

Cambridge University event recycles electronic waste for free
A variety of electronic goods are accepted at the event


The event runs between Tuesday and Wednesday this week (11-12 July) and takes place at the University of Cambridge’s Sidgwick Car Park, where all types of business and household electronic waste is accepted for free and staff are on hand to help with unloading.


Hugely popular with students, residents and businesses alike, the initiative has collected and recycled over 120 tonnes of WEEE since first starting in March 2012 - that’s the equivalent weight of over 2,500 small electrical items, 1,500 televisions, 720 washing machines and 480 fridges.


Located on the University Campus, the event is easily accessible by bicycle, public transport, as well as car, making it the perfect opportunity for those who may have been put off recycling their electronics in the past.


Commenting on the event, Councillor Rosy Moore, Executive Councillor for Environmental Services and City Centre on Cambridge City Council, commented: "It’s very likely that most households have reusable or recyclable items, large and small, gathering dust. We ask residents to dispose of their electrical and electronic appliances that they no longer need in a responsible manner and this is an ideal opportunity.”


Becky Burrell, Marketing and Commercial Manager for Cambridge BID, said: “Cambridge BID consists of 1,100 businesses in the city working together to improve the city centre.  We recognise that we are all responsible for contributing to the reduction of CO² emissions, and support a green and sustainable city.

Cambridge University event recycles electronic waste for free
Staff assist with the sorting of waste electronic equipment


We believe this event offers Cambridge BID businesses an excellent opportunity to be able to recycle their electronic waste for free in a convenient location.”


Meanwhile, John Redmayne, ERP UK General Manager, added: “This is the sixth year running that we have helped to organise this great event in Cambridge. We look forward to it each year because we are always impressed how many people and businesses in Cambridge do their bit for the environment and bring along their e-waste for recycling.”


A wasted resource


Local and easily accessible events such as these are hugely important, as the UK has a particularly bad track record for recycling WEEE.


On average, over 1.5 million tonnes of new electronic products are placed on the UK market each year, but only about 500,000 tonnes of waste electronics are recycled. WEEE recycling processes are diverse and complex due to the variety of electronic products and materials used to make them.


By not recycling WEEE, many of the valuable materials contained in the products, such as rare earth elements (REEs), are lost - a costly waste given that the cost of extracting these materials is very expensive.


More information on WEEE recycling is available in a feature for Resource 84 in May 2016, ‘Talking responsibility for WEEE’.

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