Recycling first for St Ives tube firm

THE next time you buy a fluorescent lamp, it could have been made from glass recycled by a company in St Ives. WISER Recycling has become the first company in the UK to recycle waste lighting back to lamp glass for Dutch manufacturer Philips Lighting. The

THE next time you buy a fluorescent lamp, it could have been made from glass recycled by a company in St Ives.

WISER Recycling has become the first company in the UK to recycle waste lighting back to lamp glass for Dutch manufacturer Philips Lighting.

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment regulations, which eventually came into effect in the UK last year, mean that businesses and householders must now by law separate their used lighting and send it for recycling. Businesses have to arrange for collection, and householders to take to a civic amenity site, such as those operated by Cambridgeshire County Council at Bluntisham, Alconbury and St Neots, where storage is available.

But WISER, whose headquarters are across the river from the Dolphin Hotel, short-circuits the process for companies.


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It takes its TubeEater kit to companies' premises, where the device - which operates a bit like a garden shedder - collects the mercury, phosphor, aluminium, steel, titanium and argon gas, as well as grinding the glass.

The metals, gas and phosphor are separated at the company's recycling plant at Thetford before the glass is shipped to the Netherlands for re-use. The metals are also recycled, and WISER is looking for new uses for the inert phosphor rather than send it to landfill.

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Although glass accounts for 98 per cent of the fluorescent tube, the million lamps the company recycles each year generate significant quantities of metal, particularly mercury, a liquid at normal temperatures, which would be poisonous if put into landfill.

"The TubeEater reduces the volume by around 80 per cent, which makes it much easier to transport for recycling," managing director Russell Hirst told The Hunts Post. "We deal with lamps from the county council's recycling centres, as well as from colleges, schools and laboratories, and we are building a commercial customer bases across the country from our three sites at St Ives, Huddersfield and Thetford.

"The Thetford plant, which is where we do the recovery, runs on waste cooking oil from the plant next door that uses it to generate power."

He added: "We are delighted to have achieved closed loop recycling for our glass. We have worked very hard and invested considerably in state of the art plant and equipment, and in our processing methods to get the quality right. We feel that this gives us a tremendous advantage to increase our business and ensure that the high expectations of our customers are met."

WISER, which emerged from Mr Hirst's environmental consultancy, also recycles household batteries, computer and IT equipment, ink and toner cartridges and electrical appliances.

CONTACT: Russell Hirst, managing director, WISER Recycling on 01480 464111 or 0796 775 6278.

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