With pressure on local authority budgets showing no sign of easing, funding for communications campaigns is not always available. However, help is at hand. Valpak is supporting councils and charities with consumer campaigns to raise awareness around WEEE and battery recycling.
Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and battery recycling are often difficult to encourage. Historically, kerbside collections of these types of waste are rare, and householders often resort to placing these items into the residual waste.
For local authorities this is challenging enough but, in recent years, an increase in fires caused by waste batteries has added to the problem. It is estimated that there are more than 200 waste fires every year in the UK, with 48% attributed to batteries. When Lithium-ion batteries, commonly found in household electrical items including mobile phones and electric toothbrushes, are compacted during the collection process or at treatment facilities, they are at high risk of self-igniting.
To combat this issue and other recycling challenges, Valpak has been providing free communications support for local authorities to help encourage residents to use recycling schemes.Valpak’s social media campaign for Shropshire County Council used targeted social media adverts to tackle misconceptions around the recycling of mixed, small WEEE items. Launched on Facebook on Black Friday, the campaign reinforced the message that smaller items can be recycled. The aim was to increase the recycling rate of WEEE across the county and help the local authority meet its targets.
The ads reached 32,936 householders, and resulted in a 21-tonne increase of small appliance recycling and a 7% rise in all WEEE recycling. In partnership with the mental health charity, Mind, Valpak ran an initiative titled #PowerToDoMore, which donated £5 to the charity for every free battery recycling box that was ordered. Designed for a range of locations, including supermarkets, schools, and libraries, the initiative placed an additional 1,006 collection boxes, raising more than £5,000. Following this success, the project is now trialling a reward system across three North East local authorities. People visiting household waste recycling centres can scan a QR code to record the waste electrical items they’re recycling, with £1 for every item recorded being donated to the local charity, Changing Lives. The trial is designed to see if a charitable incentive encourages the public to use the collection facilities.
Valpak was the first to introduce a carbon-free, cycle courier collection service, called Revolt. Its Cambridge and London schemes have been so successful that to date they have generated 13.7 tonnes of waste batteries for recycling. The scheme continues to grow, recently moving into Hoxton and Waltham Forest, and is soon to launch in Brighton.
These schemes are an important step in raising awareness at a local level, as around 40,000 tonnes of portable batteries are sold each year in the UK, however, in 2018, only 18,000 tonnes were recycled.