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.
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.
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.
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
The initiative proved to be a great success, with literally tonnes of dusty and broken electricals liberated from both offices and homes. It became quite clear that when broken or no longer used they 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.