Oxfordshire County Council charged-up after winning electrical goods recycling award

Oxfordshire County Council’s electrical goods waste-busting project has received recognition in the MRW National Recycling Awards. The ceremony took place at Hilton Park Lane in London.

Nearly two-tonnes of TVs, radios, toasters, and other electronic gadgetry has been fixed and saved from being thrown away, thanks to a network of 49 electrical repair cafes, run by County Council funded Community Action Groups’ (CAG) volunteers.

Over 1,500 residents brought broken electrical products to the repair cafes during a twelve-month period, November 2017 – 2018.

The project was funded by Valpak and delivered by the Community Action Groups Project Oxfordshire; the largest locally based community climate action network in the UK. It was recognised by the judges for bringing together communities and positive action to reduce waste.

As a first step, local people were identified with the necessary electrical skills. They then trained other volunteers and upskilled people to run their own electrical repair events, known as cafes.

A shared bank of equipment, ‘how to’ guides, and on-going volunteer programmes has since ensured the cafes remain operational in several locations including Rose Hill, Wantage and Didcot to further help reduce waste in Oxfordshire.

Many of the cafes have been so successful, they are expanding their activities into clothing, bicycles and other repairs.

County Councillor Yvonne Constance, member for the environment, said: “We are pleased to offer residents an option for repairing electrical items, as often it’s harder and more expensive to get them fixed rather than buying new. We are trying to create a culture of repair and reuse in Oxfordshire

“We’re delighted this community partnership approach and our commitment to helping the environment has been recognised through this prestigious award.”

Henry Owen, Project Manager at the Community Action Group Project explained: “Community groups were keen to organise events that could reduce waste and stimulate a culture of reuse and repair in their areas. They came together to collaborate with each other and the County Council on this pioneering project.

“The electrical repair cafes have raised over £2,000 from residents’ donations, money they are investing in their on-going operations.”

Cllr Constance said: “With increasingly limited natural resources, especially in materials needed to make electrical items, it’s becoming ever more important to repair rather than buy new.

“Oxfordshire County Council is committed to supporting residents in the battle against unnecessary waste. This project has helped create stronger communities through improved links, reduced isolation and skill sharing. All crucial if we are to mitigate the effects of climate change. With Oxfordshire County Council having recently acknowledged a Climate Emergency, it is even more important that we all take positive action for our environment.”

To find your nearest electrical repair event and for other tips on how to reduce your waste visit www.oxfordshirerecycles.org.uk.

For more information about the Community Action Group Project visit www.cagoxfordshire.org.uk