Recycling can take many forms, from using discarded material to make something new to capturing by-products to be turned into valuable commodities instead of waste.
To mark Recycle Week (16-22 October), we take a look at a few of the projects Interface have supported recently in recycling:
Established in 1994, ILM Highland is an independent social enterprise and charity and, in addition to delivering housing related services for older people and those living with a disability, they specialise in the processing and reuse of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE). Through this service they operate a retail outlet in Alness for the sale of refurbished and new electrical goods. ILM collects and recycles around 2,400 tonnes of WEEE annually from across the Highlands.
As they endeavoured to become self-sustaining and less reliant on grant funding, they needed to focus on proactive income generation. Carol-Ann Adams, from Interface’s Highlands and Islands team, spoke with Claire Weaver at ILM about partnering with an academic team to help identify which sellable products could be created from the electrical and electronic items collected, either reusing the item as a whole, or by breaking them down and using the component parts. The challenge was successfully taken up by students at Strathclyde University’s Design Manufacturing and Engineering Management department, who carried out a review of all the items the charity collected and identified the potential for ILM to recycle unwanted operational laptops, refurbish them and then convert them into higher functioning Chromebooks via a safe and secure software download.
Since then, ILM have gone on to secure funding through Zero Waste Scotland’s Circular Economy Investment Fund to refurbish 800 devices for onward sale in their shop and online. These retail from just £70 and have helped hundreds of people on low incomes as well as those wishing to support reuse in acquiring digital devices. The initial funding has now ended, but ILM Highland is successfully continuing to refurbish and stock preloved Chromebooks for sale, helping both people and planet.
Re-Tek is at the heart of the Circular Economy drive in Scotland providing refurbishment and remarketing of new and used IT equipment from its facility in East Kilbride.
In 2021, Re-Tek extended the life of 250,000 used technology items preventing the need for these items to be inefficiently or needlessly recycled or landfilled.
Interface has supported Re-Tek for a number of years, matching them to the right expertise at the right time. Through Interface, Re-Tek has worked with numerous universities to progress aims of the business.
Projects have ranged from researching international strategies to enter new markets, business insights on the recycling efficiency of waste from electrical and electronic equipment and accurately calculating carbon emissions from Information and Communications Technology.
The company successfully bid for a €166k tender by partnering with the University of the West of Scotland on a project to recycle/reclaim rare earth minerals and precious metals from electronic waste.
Danu Robotics Ltd
Danu Robotics Ltd is developing a revolutionary robotic waste sorting system to help the waste management industry significantly increase their productivity, prevent valuable resources going into landfill, boost the circular economy and clean up the environment.
Their technology automates waste sorting and contaminants removal with speed and accuracy. It reduces the contaminant rate from 50% to below 1%, enabling customers to produce higher purity recyclables.
Danu Robotics’ prototype can work at 40 picks per minute (versus trained human operators that work around 10-20 picks per minute) saving on operating costs ranging from 30% to 100%.
Louise Arnold, Business Engagement Executive at Interface, connected Danu Robotics to a range of Scottish academic partners to support the development of their robotic picker technology including hardware development and design with the University of Strathclyde, software development and computer vision expertise from University of Edinburgh and engineering expertise from Heriot Watt University.
Check out some of our other case studies here.