Innovative Community Action Groups are taking on electronic waste

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Waste electronic equipment is a huge environmental problem in the UK and abroad. There are also huge missed opportunities for communities to benefit from what is currently classified as ‘waste’. At the moment only 45% of UK waste electrical goods are recycled, with 80% of it going overseas (The Guardian).

Community groups across Oxfordshire have been tackling electronic waste or (WEEE – waste electrical and electronic equipment) for many years. For many groups this has been mainly by running swap shops or ‘bring and take’ events where people can bring all sorts of items, including electrical ones, to give away. At these events electronic and electrical items will be safety tested (‘PAT tested’) and then given away, or directed to an appropriate recycling facility if the item’s useful life is over.

A new project builds on this foundation, and takes it to the next level. A group made up of Oxfordshire County Council and several CAGs (Including Bicester Green, The Circular Collective, Sustainable Wallingford, Sustainable Didcot, Greening Chinnor, and Sustainable Wantage amongst others) have received £25,000 of competitive funding (1) to take the next steps towards a more circular economy in Oxfordshire.

Repair cafe mix

CAGs will be running a number of collection, repair and reuse activities, with a focus on increasing the repair of portable domestics and personal electrical items.
  • Coordination and publicity of a network of community collection hubs at existing reuse projects with shop space including:
    • Bicester Green, will collect higher value items to repair and resell at low cost in their store, online and at monthly local markets
    • Sustainable Wantage’s The Mix, will run monthly collection and “Bring and Fix it” sessions to repair domestic WEEE.
  • 22 Repair or “Bring and Fix it” Cafes will be Cafes run by CAGs across the county, alongside swap shop events.
  • A mobile collection service in Oxford City run by The Oxford Circular Collective using bicycle trailers. They will collect from households, particularly those of elderly and disabled people who cannot transport items themselves, and deliver to reuse facilities including the Repair Cafes.
  • An online ‘Reuse map’ integrated within the Oxfordshire County Council’s Recycling A to Z webpages, sign-posting residents to collection services and Repair Cafes.
  • Films showing people how to repair their own electrical items.

The participating CAGs will be receiving specialised training in electrical repair and a number of tool-kits and resources will be available to be shared around the county. The project has a focus on building repair skills in communities across Oxfordshire, so fewer fixable items go to waste.

To find out how you can get involved in the project get in touch with Alice Hemming. It could be anything from learning to fix things, organising a repair cafe in your community, or volunteering at one. 

CAG Skills share 607

  1. The WEEE Local Project Fund is made up of the Distributor Takeback Scheme (DTS) which was established as an alternative to in-store take-back for distributors to discharge some of their obligations under the UK WEEE Regulations, and the WEEE Compliance Fee (CF) established as a means for Producer Compliance Schemes to discharge some of their obligations on behalf of producers of electrical equipment as an alternative to directly collecting WEEE.  The funding is not a Government grant and neither is it provided by Valpak (who administer the DTS) nor Grant Thornton (who administer the CF).