Co-op Spring

Co-op has expanded its trial with tech-recirculation start-up, Spring, to help consumers cut e-waste and unlock the value in their old and unwanted phones and electronic devices.

Spring first partnered with Co-op last October with the launch of its high-tech, self-service Pods in 20 of the retailer’s convenience stores in London. The move is designed to make recirculating electronic devices that can be reused or recycled more accessible - keeping valuable materials in use for longer and avoiding e-waste, while enabling consumers to turn their unwanted devices items into cash.

Following the launch last year, the initiative has now been rolled-out to Co-op stores in: Birmingham; Brighton; Leeds and Manchester.

The service sees Spring’s high tech kiosk-style ‘Pods’ in store, enabling shoppers to quickly, easily and conveniently sell their old devices such as phones, tablets, e-readers and smartwatches, which then get repaired, refurbished, reused, or recycled. Spring’s Pods accept almost 14,000 different devices and customers receive payment to their Spring account within 1-3 days. The money can be simply transferred to a bank account or to charity.

Where devices cannot be re-used, Spring will ensure all components - which include materials such as: gold; copper; aluminium and, steel - are recycled. These resources are traditionally typically discarded when phones are thrown away and so the trial with Spring ensures nothing goes to landfill or incineration.

Mark Matthews, Co-op’s director of innovation and format, said: “Co-op’s partnership with Spring will enable more communities to recycle or reuse their electronic devices locally, unlocking the value in forgotten phones and other unwanted tech and, importantly, preventing unnecessary and avoidable e-waste. If we are going to have a natural environment which we are proud to pass on to future generations we need action to be taken now. By making it easier for consumers to make small changes to their everyday lives, it can add up to make a big difference for our environment.”

Spring co-founder, Tom Williams, said: “Leaving an unused device in a drawer means that rather than it being reused by someone else, it’s taken out of circulation and needs to be replaced with something new. Spring, together with Co-op, are making it easy for people to recirculate unwanted tech, which not only puts money in their pockets but also has a positive impact on the environment. We’ve already made a huge impact with our first pods in London and we’re excited to bring this to more local communities”.

Research has found that UK households and businesses produce 1.45 million tonnes of electrical waste each year (Material Focus) and, almost half of UK households have between two and five unused electronic devices sitting at home, with the issue expected to grow (Royal Society of Chemistry).