E-waste amnesty

Providing free collections of electrical waste and used batteries to celebrate Recycle Week 2019

Recycling. It's in our own hands.

Organised by WRAP under the Recycle Now brand and now in its 17th year, Recycle Week took place in September 2019. Inspired by the prominence of environmental activists, it had the theme of 'Recycling. It's in our own hands.'. Rather than just promote the event, it was only natural that we considered how we could help people around us to directly take action. A great place to start was in our very own business park, Aztec West, home to 100 companies and 8,000 employees.
Find out more about Recycle Week

The hidden problem of e-waste

According to recent surveys it is estimated that over 12,000 waste electricals and 50,000 waste batteries languish in Aztec West employee homes. That is not even considering the amount stored in offices on the business park itself. If not recycled, e-waste can damage the environment and contributes to an 'unseen shortage of rare earth metals' that are necessary in the manufacture of new technology. This problem became a natural focus for us as it is one that is rarely championed.
Find out more about the latest e-waste research

Free battery collections

To encourage the collection of used batteries for recycling we gave away a free battery collection tub to every Aztec West office, with a free collection when it is full. With an average of 6.57* used batteries per household, we can make a significant impact by collecting those from Aztec West employee homes and workplaces, whilst helping to spread the good word about why it matters. *Based on a survey of a nationally representative sample of 3,055 UK adults conducted by Censuswide in August 2017

Free electrical waste collections

We provided an e-waste recycling service, completely for free, with our partner iWaste to make it as easy as possible for Aztec West businesses and employees to take action. Employees visited a drop-off zone for small electrical items from home, such as broken kettles, mobile phones, tablets or toys. Organisations pre-booked a collection for items such as IT and display equipment, lighting and appliances with the option of certificated secure data destruction. Needless to say, this proved to be very popular with a high engagement rate.
"It’s vitally important we test and trial new initiatives to encourage households and businesses to increase their recycling rates. By moving away from the traditional methods and providing hassle free and easier solutions, we are not only able to incentivise more people to recycle but also engage with wider groups which previously would not have the facilities to do so." Sam Mountain Operations Director, iWaste

Liberating tonnes of WEEE

The initiative proved to be a great success, with 18% of the businesses on the business park booking a free WEEE collection, resulting in 2,651kg of e-waste collected over two days. It became quite clear that when broken or no longer used, waste electricals are more often than not simply stored and forgotten about, rather than recycled. The intelligence we gained from this campaign will certainly help inform our future efforts to improve the collection of WEEE and batteries.



Collected equipment category breakdown

A breakdown of the categories of equipment collected shows that nearly half the collected items were IT equipment, which is to be expected on a business park.

Disappointingly, only a handful of individuals dropped off e-waste at the drop-off zone over the two days. Due to the type and quantity of consumer equipment collected from businesses however (consumer equipment made up nearly 25% of the total waste collected form the businesses), we believe that many individuals used their booked company collection to dispose of their e-waste from home.

"The e-waste amnesty was a fantastic opportunity to test ideas that could improve collection rates of batteries and WEEE for consumers and businesses, enabling us to quickly get out there to find out what worked and what didn’t on a small scale. The learnings and insights we have gained will be key for any future e-waste campaigns we run, either locally or nationally" Ben Luger E-waste amnesty project manager, Ecosurety