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Incentivised recycling

13/11/2012

  • New services / business models,
  • Recycling,
  • Resource Efficiency,
  • Sustainable Consumption and Production
  • United Kingdom

A small British company is developing an innovative business model that will encourage the recycling and reuse of domestic appliances, such as fridges and washing machines, in exchange for loyalty points that can be used with up to 300 online retailers.

EEESafe, based in Swansea, Wales, is establishing a certification scheme for appliance engineers and EEESafe Centres. People wishing to donate their reusable appliances will be able to notify their nearest EEESafe Centre by phone or online, and the centre will arrange collection. Once collected, appliances can be repaired and resold, or used for spare parts. Appliances that are beyond repair can have valuable raw materials such as copper and gold extracted.

The objective, according to EEESafe, is to reduce the mountains of electrical and electronic waste produced each year in the United Kingdom. The scheme will also reduce demand for new appliances. “The UK is an island with limited raw materials. We need to ensure these materials are kept on our shores, rather than import them from other countries that are also running out of resources,” according to EEESafe. The scheme also promises a community benefit: those on tight budgets will be able to obtain low-cost refurbished appliances, rather than having to buy new.

The key to EEESafe is the combination of the certification scheme and the loyalty points. Engineers will obtain the EEESafe qualification, and will be able to set up an EEESafe Centre. The centres will sell EEESafe-certified refurbished appliances and parts. The loyalty points, says EEESafe founder Robert Alexander, will be the centres' cost of marketing: the centres will decide if they want to offer loyalty points to their customers, and what the value of those loyalty points will be. EEESafe centres will individually fund their loyalty points. Customers can redeem the loyalty points with websites such as Amazon and Tesco.

The scheme will largely be paid for by fees from engineers for certification and qualification. Certification will enable engineers to set up shop and start a viable business. An online system will connect the EEESafe centres, enabling the circulation of spare parts to the most appropriate place.

The scheme will encourage recycling and reuse of waste, and will be in line with European Union legislation such as the WEEE Directive (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive, 2012/19/EU), according to Alexander.

EEESafe is in a start up phase. Alexander estimates that it will be working fully within one year. It has attracted interest from trade bodies, the British Standards Institute and the Welsh government. Alexander believes the model could be replicated across the EU. “We would like to promote it and engage with other member states,” he says.

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