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Waste Not Want Not

The phosphor powder is processed to produce mercury, which in turn can be used in the production of new lamps. A small amount of impurities in the phosphor powder must, for health and safety reasons, be land filled. However, in total, around 80 per cent of each lamp is reused.

Clare Noble, MD, PHS Wastemangement said: “It is Recyclite’s objective to make recycling as simple as possible, ensuring our customers can recycle responsibly without letting the process interfere with their core business operations. The annual volume of waste sent to landfill has fallen from around 100 million tonnes in 1997, to less than 39 million tonnes in 2013, according to government data, however with the landfill tax set to rise from £80 per tonne to £82.60 from April, it’s never been more prevalent for business to take responsibility for their waste streams.”

When writing a feature based around unusual recycling, talking to Helistrat, who handle a great deal of waste on behalf of Ann Summers, is like stumbling across buried treasure. Stuff_002After all, in the Gold Group stores that Helistrat is responsible for, nothing goes to landfill. A feat that was achieved within a matter of months of them taking over the contract.
This means that all the weird and wonderful waste produced (feel free to let your imaginations run wild…) goes on to serve some further process.

For example the circuit boards and electrical systems from within Ann Summers vibrators are routinely re-used in mobile phone technology. Just something to bear in mind the next time you set it to vibrate…

The rubber from which these same vibrators are made can be used too, for safety matting for recreational facilities. The coat hangers from the stores are reincarnated as clothes horses in a fine example of closed loop recycling.

IMG00407-20120719-1050The second lives of unsold lingerie is even more interesting. In order to prevent the sale of Ann Summers products on the black market the company used to favour the shredding and pulping of unsold underwear which then served as insulation in cars, giving a new twist to the cliché of finding knickers in your car.

Now however, with the closure of the facility in the Republic of Ireland where this took place, over £500,000 worth of Ann Summers lingerie is incinerated annually, even this however does not go to waste, as the resulting energy is used to produce electricity.

Congratulations are due to both Ann Summers and Helistrat. Who expected such innovative and amusing examples of recycling to be lurking on every high street?

Whenever you think about things being environmentally friendly or recyclable you think about paper and plastic bottles (at least I do…) not wood. Wood should, in some, vague, unspecified way, be the end result. Lovely trees and forests, you get the idea.

But, as Matt Drew from Saxlund International explains, Britain’s wood is actually a valuable resource that is, at best, undervalued, and at worst going to waste and being shipped abroad.

Take your old furniture to a tip and, contrary to what I had believed, the wood fairies don’t stroll up and magic it away. Nor is it dropped into landfills, which wood is not allowed to be a part off.

This waste wood can actually be extremely difficult, and expensive, to dispose off. Prices in the region of £60 per tonne of waste wood are not uncommon depending on which part of the country you’re based in.

This wood can play a valuable part of the biomass process, Drew says that wood based biomass facilities can operate at around 80-85 per cent efficiency, versus coal facilities’ 30-35 per cent.

On top of this the use of such biomass systems entitles firms to government subsidies, so instead of paying through the nose for oil, you can actually be remunerated for burning wood.

About Sarah OBeirne


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