Resources minister Therese Coffey has officially opened AO’s recycling plant in Telford, which will deal with around 700,000 fridges, washing machines, dishwashers, tumble driers and other items of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) a year.
AO Recycling was launched last year following online retailer AO’s takeover of The Recycling Group. The move is part of AO’s strategy to allow its customers to take back their goods as part of a closed loop system.
The company says the site will recycle a quarter of the fridges discarded in the UK each year.
Coffey said: “This is a significant step by a British business to increase our capacity to recycle fridges and other electrical household appliances.
“Although collection and recycling of household electrical items is increasing, we all have a responsibility to our environment, and it is only through businesses, consumers and the Government working together that we will recycle more and protect our environment for the next generation.”
Anthony Sant, AO Recycling sales and marketing director, said: “It’s the biggest investment in UK fridge recycling in more than a decade, and will play a vital role in ensuring we have the capacity needed to deal with the millions of appliances which are thrown away every year.”
Last year AO published its response to a Government consultation on WEEE regulations, which called for a household WEEE recycling target of 70%.
Sant added: “We have heard a lot recently about the problems associated with plastic waste. However, WEEE should also be a priority because this is a hugely challenging waste stream.
“We believe we need to shift the emphasis to a system based on retailer take-back – and that consumers should rightly expect this as standard when they buy a new product. It will require a collective approach to managing WEEE from retailers, producers, recyclers and policy makers to increase home collections from customers.”