AO’s move into recycling has been given the official seal of approval after our new plant in Shropshire received the coveted WEEELABEX certification for its cooling reprocessing.

WEEELABEX accredited auditors visited our new state of the art facility in Telford in January to put its technical standards for WEEE recycling under the spotlight. The new plant, which has created an additional 200 jobs in the area, opened in 2017 and is expected to recycle more than 700,000 fridges in its first year – a fifth of those thrown away annually by UK households and businesses.

The recycling plant also recycles other large domestic appliances collected from our customers and incorporates a successful re-use operation where unwanted appliances are repaired and refurbished for secondhand resale. Most appliances arrive at the facility from our own customers, but we also offer our services to other third party companies. We have contracts in place with a number of producer compliance schemes, including Repic.

Successful auditing by the WEEELABEX inspectors demonstrated that our recycling facilities are certified to the highest standards! They examined our new end-to-end cooling recycling process at Telford, at the heart of which is a new custom-built fridge reprocesser, built for AO by Austrian firm Andritz. The audit was led by Julie-Anne Adams of Really Green Credentials.

The machine uses heavy duty rotating steel chains inside a sealed chamber to smash fridges into their constituent metals, plastics and insulation foam. Hazardous materials including oils, refrigerants and gases are also carefully removed from the appliances for safe disposal, while all valuable materials are recovered and sorted for recycling.

Anthony Sant, our Sales and Marketing Director at Telford said:

“This is great news for AO! WEEELABEX certification is the highest accolade in fridge recycling. Waste electrical equipment represents the fastest growing waste stream in the UK. Recycling these unwanted items sustainably and efficiently will be the key waste management challenge of the coming decades. Large domestic appliances and fridges have proved especially difficult to deal with in a way which maximises resource efficiency and limits environmental impact.

The UK needs significant investment in high quality reprocessing capacity just to keep pace with the increase in items being thrown away and challenges such as larger American-style fridges entering the waste stream. AO’s facility in Telford represents one of the biggest investments in UK fridge recycling capacity in more than a decade and will play a major part in helping the UK meet WEEE recycling and landfill reduction targets in the years ahead.

WEEELABEX certification is confirmation that AO’s bold move into WEEE recycling last year has paid off. It demonstrates our commitment as a major online retailer to ensuring our customers’ unwanted waste electrical and electronic equipment is dealt with properly when they purchase a new item from us.”

Wayne Copley, the Procurement Director of Repic, said:

“This new infrastructure investment combined with WEEELABEX quality approval is great news for WEEE recycling in the UK and will be welcomed by producers of electronic equipment. It’s a tough challenge to meet the WEEE Regulations treatment requirements and to know one of our key recycling partners has been given the seal of approval from WEEELABEX will give producers peace of mind that WEEE is being dealt with effectively, efficiently and sustainably. The fact that a relatively new operator has come into the market and made such a significant contribution to reprocessing capacity and to such a high standard is very encouraging. It bodes well for our ability as a society to meet our challenging responsibilities around electrical waste in the years ahead. WEEELABEX auditing is rigorous and testing and it is to AO’s credit that they have achieved accreditation for their facility in its first year of operation.”