In our second Q&A to celebrate Recycle Week that runs from 21 to 27 September, we speak to e-waste recycler, iWaste.
To celebrate the organisations and individuals in the recycling sector who have continued to work hard despite the unprecedented difficulties encountered this year, during Recycle Week we are publishing a new industry insight Q&A every day with those who are really making a difference.
Following our feature with Bristol Waste Company yesterday, here is Sam Mountain, Director of Intelligent Waste Management (iWaste), to tell us more about the challenges they have faced over the last six months.
Who are iWaste and what do you do?
iWaste specialise in the collection, treatment and recycling of waste electronics.
We've gained a reputation as one of the UK’s most trusted e-waste companies and we provide electronic waste collection services, secure data destruction, electronic recycling equipment and WEEE disposal from Hampshire, for businesses across the UK.
Our client portfolio includes corporations such as BP Oil, 3M and public sector organisations such as the NHS.
For your organisation, what have been the biggest challenges in the last six months?
There have been a number of difficult challenges over the past few months, which like everyone, we have never experienced before. Firstly, being a small organic business, it was imperative that we were able to put a plan and structure in place to ensure our long-term future, especially during the height of lock-down when the majority of our work dried up.
"Thankfully over the past few years we have put in place a number of previsions that would allow us to comfortably get through any downturn in work and ensure job security for all our staff."
Additionally, once we began bringing staff back to the work place, it was important that our company and workplace was and remains COVID safe and compliant. Providing all staff with training and implementing protocols that meant they not only they felt comfortable and happy to return to work, but this also transmitted to our customers sites when carrying out collections.
Has the ‘new normal’ presented any unforeseen opportunities for you?
Over the last 12 months we have been developing our own software for scheduling and arranging collections. The new normal has forced us to push further ahead with this and adapt quicker.
Ultimately it has enabled us to reduce social interactions and face to face conversations and in-turn has began to streamline our services for both our collections teams and customers that will benefit our service as a whole and improve our customer experience.
What does the future look like for your industry and what challenges lie ahead?
UK households are throwing away 155,000 tonnes of domestic electrical waste every year and we are hoarding 527 million small old electricals, weighing around 190,000 tonnes – nearly 20 items per household.
In addition, 145,000 tonnes of commercial and industrial waste is also being thrown away. The challenge will be to continue to put iWaste at the forefront of our industry and ensure we can continue with ever increasing pace, whilst providing all our clients with the high-level of service we aim to provide.
What one piece of advice to improve recycling would you tell consumers today?
We would advise to stop and think about whether the purchase you are about to make will have a negative impact or not, and what we can all do in our professional and personal lives to improve our individual output.
"We have become a throw-away society and we need to try and address this from the top of the chain, not rely on consumers trying to recycle."
And what advice would you give policy makers?
Looking at it from a producer’s point of view, we need to make sure they are conscious of what they are manufacturing and how to make it easier to establish proper recycling habits and for the general public put these processes into practice. Additionally, making it easier for industries like us to recycle the product at the end of life stage.
For example, it’s very hard to disconnect a battery from a new mobile phone nowadays, which has been built to be obsolete within a few years. When it then reaches a facility like ours it becomes very difficult for us to break these units down to recycle correctly. Products that contain batteries are becoming more and more prone to fire risks when being recycled.
Tell us your favourite fact or myth to bust about recycling
It’s a common belief that the Green Triangle Icon means the product is recyclable. This is actually false and actually means the company producing the product have contributed financially towards the recovery and recycling packaging in Europe. For a product to be recyclable it must state so on its packaging, not simply use the green triangle logo.
Marketing projects specialist
Ben joined the team at the beginning of 2015 and helps drive marketing communications and projects for Ecosurety, including project managing the launch of the Ecosurety Exploration Fund and website content development.