WRAP funded project closes electrical recycling loop

11th November 2008

Electrical goods with recycled content will soon be available on the high street thanks to a WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) funded project. Indesit has become the first company to successfully incorporate recycled content derived from the UK waste stream within white goods on a large scale. The project delivers substantial savings in raw materials and costs.

Indesit, in collaboration with WRAP and Axion Recycling, spent many months investigating the potential to extract plastic materials from Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), and recycle them for use in the manufacture of new products.

The project has enabled Indesit to introduce a new cover plate on two premium washing machine models - Hotpoint Aquarius and Ultima. The plate uses 100 per cent recycled content, sourced from UK WEEE, representing a step change in UK manufacturing. WRAP now plans to work with other companies to further explore the benefits of this innovative approach.

The material has been produced using shredded plastic waste recovered from domestic fridges, and made into a high grade polymer that has a similar weight to the virgin plastic it is replacing. As a result, the CO2 emissions, cumulative cost and raw material savings from this activity are significant.

The results of the project coincide with the launch of new research from WRAP, which reveals that many consumers would favour an electronic product containing recycled content at point of purchase, if price, functionality and reliability were equal to a substitute item.

This collaboration project demonstrates the technical feasibility of closed-loop recycling in electronic products – and the economic and environmental benefits of the approach.

Peter Maddox, Head of Manufacturing at WRAP said: “This groundbreaking project has demonstrated that closed-loop recycling in electrical equipment from UK WEEE is commercially viable on a large scale for the first time, with no negative effect on performance. We encourage other manufacturers to follow this example.

“Our recent research has also demonstrated that some consumers are willing to buy products that contain some recycled content over those that do not – further strengthening the business argument for this approach.”

Mike Birch, Environment Manager at Indesit Company, commented: “Having successfully completed the trial, we now plan to roll out the innovation to a range of our washing machines and washer dryers that are produced each year. The cumulative cost and raw material savings will be significant. For us the improved price was an enabler to help deliver a project with environmental benefits – we felt it was the right thing to do.

“We are now considering how further environmental improvements and savings can be made by using recycled content within other components and parts, throughout our manufacturing operation.”

Companies that are interested in realising valuable business benefits by working with WRAP on similar projects should visit the website http://www.wrap.org.uk/manufacturing

  • WRAP helps individuals, businesses and local authorities to reduce waste and recycle more, making better use of resources and helping to tackle climate change.
  • Established as a not-for-profit company in 2000, WRAP is backed by government funding from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • Working in seven key areas (Construction, Retail, Manufacturing, Organics, Business Growth, Behavioural Change, and Local Authority Support), WRAP’s work focuses on market development and support to drive forward recycling and materials resource efficiency within these sectors, as well as wider communications and awareness activities including the multi-media national Recycle Now campaign for England.
  • More information on all of WRAP's programmes can be found on www.wrap.org.uk