Did you know that there is about 1kg of lead in your television screen? Or that 98% of materials from waste electrical equipment recycled in West London can be recovered and made into new products?
Well, The Rubbish Diet went to investigate. Rishika, our new West London Rubbish Diet Coordinator, went with Rubbish Dieters Madeleine, Paul and Julian to find out what happens to West London’s waste electronics at the SWEEEP Kuusakoski recycling plant in Sittingbourne. This is where all the broken electricals, computers, TVs and printers that are dropped off at West London’s household recycling centres end up.
The UK produces over a million tonnes of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) a year from domestic and commercial sources. The SWEEEP Kuusakoski plant can process WEEE and recovers all the metals and raw materials from them so that they can be used to make new products. At SWEEEP over 98% of the material is recovered and diverted from landfill. At the moment the SWEEEP plant processes 40,000 tonnes of waste electrical and electronic equipment a year.
All batteries and hazardous components are hand removed and then the items are sent for processing – they are chipped and separated into 50 different products.
In addition, SWEEP Kuusakoski is the first company in the world to have developed a sustainable solution for recycling Cathode Ray Tubes – otherwise known as your TV screen! The SWEEEP furnace process removes up to 1 kg of lead from each TV screen. The process has no emissions, creates no waste and avoids the export of hazardous material from the UK.
Paul said “It was a fascinating tour and I was glad to have been able to go on it”. Julian from Harrow said “The whole plant was an eye-opener for me and illustrated why even the smallest electrical equipment should never go to landfill.”
Rishika was really impressed, “The strong message that we took away from the visit was that it really is worthwhile taking your broken electrical and electronic equipment to your local household recycling centre or the special WEEE drop off points at the Tricycle Theatre and Local Libraries. SWEEEP can recover almost 99% of the material – which is great for the planet, great for UK manufacturing and means that we aren’t losing all those valuable resources to landfill.
“So as we head into 2016 – let’s make a pledge to do the right thing with all our broken electrical stuff – however small.”