Co-op partners with Spring to trial tech recirculation services

Co-op has announced a partnership with Spring that will see the supermarket enabling customers to put unused electronics back into circulation.

The recirculation service will be piloted across 20 Co-op locations, with the initial trial making use of ‘kiosk-style pods’ that will enable consumers to sell pre-owned devices – including phones, tablets, e-readers, and smartwatches – which will then get either repaired, refurbished, reused or recycled. The pods accept approximately 12,000 types of device, with customers receiving payment within two to five days, which can be transferred to a bank account or charity. The service is initially planned to launch in London, with locations across Manchester, Leeds, Brighton, and Birmingham slated to follow.

E-wasteSpring also has plans to collaborate with other retailers, intending on rolling out over 250 pods across the nation in the next year. The company states that this will put approximately 100,000 devices back into circulation, which translates into a total annual emissions reduction of over 4,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Spring asserts that, in instances where donated devices cannot be reused, all remaining components will be recycled in order to ensure that nothing is sent to either landfill or incineration.

The partnership comes in the wake of an international surge in e-waste, according to Spring. Approximately 53.6 million tonnes of e-waste was generated globally in 2019, of which 83 per cent was not documented as being collected or recycled, with this figure expected to grow to 74.7 million tonnes by 2030. Of this figure, the UK generated a total of 1.6 million tonnes of electronic refuse, equating to 23.9kg per person, Spring states. The recirculation company claims that there are approximately 190,000 tonnes of unused small electrical items in total across UK households – the equivalent of around 527 million devices – with the current rate of electronics reuse resting between 2.5 per cent and 10 per cent.

Beyond reducing the number of electronics that end up in the waste stream, as well as the number of new devices that need to be manufactured due to the proliferation of reused appliances within the market, the recirculation of digital technology also sees the diversion of precious metals away from landfill. Spring hopes that, with the expansion of its scheme, of the £370 million of precious metals found within discarded electronic devices annually in the UK – including gold, copper, aluminium, and steel – a significant amount can be retrieved and used within technologies including wind turbines, solar panels, artificial joints, and pacemakers.

Tom Williams, Co-Founder of Spring, commented: “Creating a circular economy is key to living more sustainably, 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 – find your local one at”

Mark Matthews, 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. Making it easier for consumers to make small changes to their lives, can add up to making a big difference for our environment.”