£2.5 million to support electrical waste reuse and recycling sector in response to Covid-19

10 July 2020

Material Focus has today announced that its  “Support Grants and Loans Package” to help support the electrical waste recycling sector as a result of the impact of COVID-19 has allocated £2.5 million.  

The “Support Grants and Loans Package” will help support the continuation of the UK WEEE recycling system as the sector deals with the repercussions of COVID-19.  The funding has provided nearly £2 million of interest free loans to commercial electrical waste treatment facilities and over £500,000  in grants to organisations in the charity sector supporting the reuse of electricals.  Fourteen companies applied and were granted loans, and 34 charities were also provided with support via grants.  

Material Focus structured and allocated the fund on behalf of the 2019 Compliance Fee Advisory Panel, following extensive consultation and research amongst the electrical waste reuse and recycling sector. The research identified the economic impact that the coronavirus was having on the sector.  The loans and grants that were applied for were allocated based upon evidence issued by applicants for WEEE processing in 2019, whilst applications for grants were reviewed by a panel of experts before being allocated.  

Scott Butler, Executive Director of Material Focus said: “We are delighted that Material Focus has been able to rapidly help and support 48 organisations and charities. The loans and grants are 100% backed by Material Focus. We designed the application process to ensure speedy allocation of funding. Continuing to process the valuable materials contained in electricals is important for the environment and the economy. Re-used electricals can also support those most in need.”

Craig Anderson, CEO of the Re-Use Network who processed the grant funding said: “  “During this crisis reuse charities are working in new and creative ways to respond to the needs of their communities. Although high street retail has stopped, the demand for emergency supply of refurbished household appliances for frontline staff and people being rehoused is urgent and increasing. This funding will not only help stabilise the WEEE Reuse charity sector, but will also mean they will be able to process and supply electricals to those most affected by COVID-19, self-isolation and lockdown.”

Phil Conran from the AATF Forum, some of whose members benefited from the loan, said: “This was a very welcome initiative and has helped some members get through a very difficult period when their supply of WEEE literally stopped overnight. Without this funding, it is clear that the UK’s WEEE treatment capacity would have been significantly harmed.”

Paul Smith, CEO of The Reuse Shop Stranraer, who received £10,000 from the fund, said: “The WEEE Reuse Support Fund has enabled the Community Reuse Shop to reopen with extra confidence, knowing we have the necessary skills and resources to safely test, prepare and reuse electrical appliances.  Without this funding we would not be properly and safely prepared to reopen the shop.  We are seeing on day one of our shop reopening that the fund is paying dividends with electrical appliances that would have otherwise gone to landfill are flying out the door.”

The Edinburgh Remakery also received £10,000.  Elaine Brown, CEO said: “The Edinburgh Remakery is delighted to receive the WEEE Reuse Grant Support.  This will make a huge difference to the work we are doing.  Prior to Covid19 we had launched our free IT Disposal Service for Businesses.  The WEEE Grant will enable us to bring back one of our IT technicians to refurbish the IT donations from businesses and another member of the team to promote the service and support businesses through the process. This has given a real kick start to our project that will both benefit businesses to dispose of E-waste responsibly, but also allow us to continue to donate refurbished IT to those in the community that are facing digital isolation as a direct result of Covid19.”

Details regarding the grants and loans: 

  • Loan details:  loans were available to all registered commercial AATF’s that have issued evidence of treatment in 2019. 50% of the loan was made available immediately with the remaining 50% available three months after the initial payment. 
  • Grant details:  grants were available to all registered charity AATF’s, as well as a portion of the grants available to some non-AATF charity reusers of electricals.    
  • A simple application process was designed for both the loans and grants. The loans have been broadly based on the Government’s Business Interruption Loan (CBILS) application system.

The 2019 Compliance Fee Advisory Panel includes the following representative organisations:  Defra, AATF Forum, ICER, LARAC, NAWDO, WEEE Schemes Forum (WSF), Reuse Network, Joint Trade Associations (JTA), and the  Environmental Services Association (ESA).  Material Focus drew on extensive research and consultation amongst the WEEE sector to design the funding scheme that provides support during these unprecedented times.


For further information or interviews please contact:  Kate Hinton 07714 708416 / email kate@materialfocus.org.uk

Material Focus  is making recycling small old electricals easier than ever before by launching an information hub for the UK, and making it easier for an additional 4.1 million households to access recycling facilities. The campaign is encouraging more UK householders to gather up their old unwanted electricals and then put them in a bag ready to be recycled once lockdown has lifted and local recycling facilities have reopened. A new postcode finder has launched on www.materialfocus.org.uk with details of over 2,000 recycling, repair and reuse points, with new collection and drop-off points being added to the site on an ongoing basis.

 Material Focus is funded by producers of electrical appliances. The UK government sets annual targets for the recycling of all waste electricals, including small electricals, under the WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Regulations. If producers of electrical appliances don’t meet this target then they contribute towards a WEEE compliance fee fund. We manage this fund to support action that will increase the levels of reuse and recycling of old electricals across the UK. 

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