AO has bought the Shropshire-based WEEE specialist The Recycling Group (TRG) in a move which will apparently make it the UK’s biggest fridge recycler.
The joint effort is being launched as AO Recycling – a joint venture which is expected to recycle 700,000 fridges a year from AO customers and third parties at its new plant in Telford.
The site will also process other large WEEE items including washing machines, tumble driers and dishwashers, as well as refurbishing appliances brought in from AO customers for resale.
TRG has closed its former recycling plant at Knighton in Powys to focus solely on the AO Recycling operation at Telford, which has created 200 jobs.
Anthony Sant, Sales & Marketing Director at AO Recycling, said: “This is a significant move by AO into the recycling sector. As a retailer we are constantly looking for ways we can take on all aspects of the supply chain, whether it is sales or logistics. We are now applying ‘The AO way’ to recycling with this exciting new venture.
“We want to build on TRG’s knowledge and expertise to change the way the UK recycles domestic appliances at their end of life. We will significantly increase UK WEEE recycling capacity and aim to deliver industry-leading materials recovery rates.
“We face a big challenge as a country with more and more household electrical items being sold every year. We have to find new and better ways to ensure these items are sustainably and efficiently recycled when they are no longer needed. With the launch of AO Recycling, it means we can play our part as a retailer in ensuring our customers’ old products don’t end up in landfill but are given a new lease of life – either through recycling or reuse.”
All packaging from AO customers’ new products will also be brought to the Telford AO Recycling plant for recycling.
Steve Caunce, CEO at AO, said: “AO and TRG have been a perfect match from the very beginning and together we’re excited to transform the way electrical appliances are recycled in the UK. The plant we have built in Telford will set new standards and take the industry to another level.
“TRG has a proven track record in this area and we have the strong relationship with our customers to make this work. Appliances will come to us from AO customers from across the country and the new plant we have built and its state of the art machinery will ensure every scrap of resource is extracted from every item. As with everything we do at AO – this partnership is also about making life easier for our customers.
“We anticipate the new company will make a significant contribution to meeting UK recycling targets for fridges and other Large Domestic Appliances. In our first year we are aiming to recycle more than one fifth of the fridges thrown away annually. This has the potential to be a game-changer for the industry.”
So now just like another large retailer AO can swerve around the cost of WEEE by doing it for itself and recycle for others as well.
Some people in the industry have speculated that large retailers should not be allowed to own their own recycling operations as it gives them too big an advantage over smaller retailers but, ti also allows them to effectively launder their own waste. This sort of sentiment and concern was voiced when Currys bought their facility at Grantham some years ago now AO are following the same path.
It is interesting to not in this however that AO admits that we are scrapping more and more appliances every year, a topic that we've covered in depth many times on this site (most recent here) as it's also costing UK consumers millions of pounds a year in appliances that are ever less durable and more environmentally damaging than old ones, despite the claims of being "green".
So the solution presented here is, simply to treat the waste better rather than solving the problem of short lifespans.