Environmental news

A plug for recycling electrical waste

New collection banks to help Greater Cambridge residents recycle more small electrical appliances have been set up in four housing developments.

The banks for old electrical items are being maintained by the Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service – a partnership between South Cambridgeshire District and Cambridge City Councils.

Electrical items can’t be put into residents’ recycling bins, and households across Cambridgeshire throw an average of 2.6kg of them away in their black bins each year. In Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire this adds up to around 320 tonnes of e-waste which should have been recycled.

The new banks have been installed at Glebe Farm Drive, Hawkey Road, Osprey Drive and Fawcett Road on the Glebe Farm, Aura, Trumpington Meadows and Abode developments and are suitable for most small items which have a plug or a battery, including phones, toys, kettles and many more. The banks aren’t suitable for TVs, computers including laptops or large appliances such as lawnmowers though – and all these should be taken to a Household Recycling Centre.

The unwanted small appliances will be sorted for re-use and recycling by specialist company Wiser Recycling. Items that are undamaged, uncontaminated and repairable may be suitable for re-use within the UK. Wiser Recycling comprehensively tests the refurbished small appliances to ensure that they are safe and functional. Items that are unsuitable for re-use will get dismantled into their component parts. Many of those components are also suitable for re-use. For example, screens from broken monitors or power units from laptops. Items that fail the re-use screening are sent to local and national specialist operators who will recycle them into new substances or products.

Recycling e-waste is becoming more and more important as global stocks of materials like silver and lithium which are essential for components in mobile phones and other appliances are under pressure from increasing demand.

Posted March 9 2020
A grenade, toilet seat and disco lights are on a list of items that people across Greater Cambridge have wrongly put into their blue bins for recycling.

At the start of national Recycle Week, South Cambridgeshire District and Cambridge City Councils have released a list of the strangest things found inside residents’ blue bins.

The list also includes a decorator’s paint tray and rollers (both covered in paint), metal tape measures, wellies, bricks and a games console controller. None of these things can be recycled via the blue bin and led to recycling being rejected at the Waste Management Park where recycling and waste is sorted. Recent finds that have wrongly ended-up in the recycling plant also include car brake discs, a clothes horse, bowling ball, gas cylinders and lots of cuddly toys. All have come from the recycling wheelie bins of residents.

During Recycle Week this week, residents are being reminded that “it’s in our own hands” to decide how much to recycle and take action to protect the environment. Recycling that people across South Cambridgeshire and Cambridge City put into the blue bin gets sent off to re-processors to be turned into new products, with the Councils receiving valuable income for each tonne. In addition to ensuring less ends up in landfill, this provides additional income to help pay for vital frontline services.
Getting recycling right

Latest research from Recycle Now reveals that more than 60% of UK households are now recycling more than they were a year ago because of environmental concerns.

The research shows that more and more UK households are recycling plastic drinks bottles, cleaning product, toiletry and shampoo bottles, amongst other items including glass jars and bottles and tin cans. Nearly a third of these people cite environmental concerns as the main reason for doing more and others attribute it to an increased awareness of what can be recycled. Whilst the research showed an increase in recycling, it also showed that UK households sometimes incorrectly put items like nappies, wipes and clothing in the blue bin.

Putting the wrong items in your recycling can mean your blue bin doesn’t get collected, causing an inconvenience. Worse still, it could mean that an entire bin lorry load of recycling gets rejected and ends up heading for landfill.

Here are some products that you may not have known you can recycle in your blue bin:
Clean tin foil. Save up small bits until you can scrunch into a tennis ball size. This keeps it all together as it passes through the recycling plant.
Aerosol cans. Ensure they are empty and don’t crush them. Metal like this is extremely valuable to re-processors and can be recycled endlessly.
Plastic bottles from toiletries and cleaning products – including bleach, shampoo, nail varnish remover, etc.
Cartons, e.g. Tetrapak cartons from juice, soya milk, etc.

Here are some products that definitely shouldn’t go in your blue bin:
Food and liquid remains. A quick rinse or a wipe is usually enough to make your recycling clean. A tip for jars is to half fill with washing-up water, screw the lid on, shake, and empty. Any leftover chemicals or oil should be taken to a Household Recycling Centre.
Batteries. If damaged or crushed, batteries can catch alight and cause fires in the back of bin lorries or at the waste management park. Please put them in a clear bag and attach the bag to your blue bin so they can be disposed of safely
Clothing and textiles. Take these to a clothing bank or charity shop. Even clean worn-out clothes have value and can be recycled this way for other purposes.
Nappies, wipes, sanitary items, kitchen paper and tissues. These are all too dirty and low-quality to be recycled.
Black sacks, even if they contain recycling. Put recyclables in the blue bin loose.
Posted Sept 23 2019

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