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Will the pink electrical recycling scheme turn you green?

Pink’s my favourite colour and now I’ve another reason to love it. My local council has introduced a new pink recycling bag for small electrical goods. Has a touch of pink brightened up your rubbish and do you plan to use it?

Everyone’s got a guilty draw. The secret location in your house that you stuff with electrical goods, in the hope they’ll magically disappear.

I confess that I have a little collection of goodies I’ve been meaning to take to the dump, but I’ve not quite got round to it.

No more trips to the dump

Don’t get me wrong, I love a weekend trip to the dump – genuinely I do. As I child I had nightmares of the ‘dump’ being a hideous pit where people went to bury their rubbish.

So when I first visited my local dump, imagine my surprise when I saw a big screen scrolling through how much of our local waste had been recycled after being disposed of at the dump. About 70% tends to be the regular figure of waste that’s recycled through the scheme.

My dump has drop off points to recycle your undies, toys and books and even a place to leave furniture for others to snap up.

Handy household collection

Well, thanks to my new pink recycling bad, I won’t need to make a trip for small electrical items. I can now leave batteries, my old TV remote and alarm clock out to be collected with my next recycling collection.

The Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) Directive isn’t new – it was introduced into UK law in January 2007, but my council has only recently turned this into a handy household collection.

The Directive aims to reduce the amount of electrical and electronic equipment being produced and to encourage everyone to reuse, recycle and recover it.

The waste is then collected and taken to recycling sites for sorting. Items are shredded to reduce volume and are mechanically separated into their component parts. The materials collected will then be used to produce a mixed grade plastic, which can be used to make street furniture. Any metals recovered are taken for reuse.

Will electrical recycling bags take off?

I was a little disappointed to see the pink bag is a one off. Once used, you need to replace it with a standard carrier bag. I’m not holding that against my council too much – it would be a bit counter productive to produce one waste product to enable you to recycle another. Though it does seem odd to use the pink bag to introduce the scheme, to then remove it altogether.

I’ve chatted to a few people around the office and it seems the scheme has yet to reach many other areas. Do you have the pink electrical recycling scheme – or equivalent – in your local area, and will you use it?


Seems a good idea and a special colour sack must make recycling easier at the depot.
The only doorstep recycling my council provides is a fortnightly paper bin collection so I’m jealous.

However I would urge consumers to recycle through reuse as much as possible especially for electricals, use Freecycle, charity shops and charity furniture recyclers where possible

Now THAT’S a good idea! We could do with that in our area (though allegedly we now have on-street recycling for electrical items, but they’re not exactly convenient).

My biggest bug bear about the dump – or refuse and recycling centres as they call them where I live – is they are pretty much inaccessible without a car, either because they’re not near any public transport, or because they won’t let you in without a car. I appreciate planning requirements mean the locations are pretty limited, but they should be more accessible for people who don’t have cars. I’m about to move to a car-free development so couldn’t have a car even if I wanted, so would have to hire one to go to the dump. We will do a pre-move trip, but for those little things that accumulate over the years, being able to chuck them in a bag to be collected would be much appreciated!

I think this is a great idea – could someone tell Harrow Council about the concept of recycling too?

Never mind electrical recycling, I recently moved into a new flat in Harrow and the local council doesn’t even do regular collections. We have three big bins for normal rubbish, so they could easily replace one of these with a recycling bin. When I contacted the council I was told that they hope to start rolling out recycling facilities to blocks of flats ‘from March’. Not holding my breath…

In the meantime, rarrar’s right – Freecycle is the way to go!

Harrow are promising recycling for flats – and if they’ve told you March then don’t let them forget it!

I live in a very touristy area with a large number of holiday homes.
As these are “business properties” they dont get free refuse collection and have to pay for their different colour wheely bin to be emptied – fair enough.

However they cant get a separate paper bin for recycling unlike other houses, which seems ridiculous !

Having just moved to a new borough where the recycling collections are significantly worse than in my previous borough, you’re making me very jealous Charlotte!

I do think this is a good idea, especially for batteries etc that kick around the house and often end up getting chucked away out of frustration. Do agree with rarrar about reusing and using services like Freecycle wherever possible though. I’ve given lots of stuff away on freecycle – if it still works you’ll nearly always find someone who wants it and will keep using it, which has to be preferable to recycling. Unfortunately, charity shops very rarely take electrical goods anymore though.

Sophie Gilbert says:
26 January 2012

It is bizarre that they should give out pink bags only the first time round and not again after that. This dilutes the message to the point of its being non-existent. It is only through reinforcement that a lot of people recycle nowadays, through seeing more and more recycling bins in streets and at airports for example, so people should regularly see filled pink bags in the street ready for collection for the message to get through. The local authority should give out a roll of these pink bags to each household or provide reusable pink plastic bins (but then maybe some of us would keep them for something else if they are too pretty…).

In Edinburgh there is no such collection scheme as yet. We have to haul our small recyclable good to the recycling centre ourselves, which are few and inconveniently placed for most people, but they’re there.

I have been told by at least half a dozen charity shops that they don’t accept electrical goods, full stop, so Freecycle would be the only other solution for me, or carboot sales, eBay etc.

Charity Shops

I accept that many charity shops no longer take electricals , due to top management and insurance companies view of risk and the difficulty of recruiting volunteers to functionally and safety test items.
I work in one of the 5 Oxfam shops that now do take electricals and the other 2 charity shops in my town have just started selling electricals as well so maybe these outlets are on the increase.

Sophie Gilbert says:
26 January 2012

Cheers, rarrar, I’ll ask again then.

We’re still waiting – one neighbouring borough already does this.

However RECYCLING is an end of use process and REUSE if possible is by far the preferable option. Freecycle, charity shops – check out Oxfam and British Heart Foundation, and other options for reusing and always keep a look out for places that repair things. There are companies on the internet which sell spares for electrical items. We’ve replaced cracked screens on phones etc by following instructions and videos like this.

Beware if the Reuse & Recycling Centre (dump) just collects things in the open. Would you keep anything electrical outside that you intended to reuse? I wouldn’t. So find a different home for something with life in it.

BATTERIES: The regulations for these are that anywhere selling more than a certain number has to also collect spent ones. So keep a look out for the see-through collection boxes in all those shops where you’ve bought them. You might be surprised!

John Divine says:
7 February 2012

I don’t mind the color of the as long as they are recycled bags.