Vision Recycling Ltd - Business case study
Worcester company has the vision to see beyond the COVID-19 crisis
It is widely acknowledged that an increasing amount of flat panel displays will be entering the waste stream over the next 5 to 10 years, with a significant proportion of these being hazardous Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) products containing fluorescent backlights. WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) states that 115,000 tonnes of waste arising from LCD display products, containing fluorescent backlights, was produced in 2017, a figure that will only increase as residential and commercial systems reach the end of their lifecycle.
Established in February 2019, Vision Recycling Ltd recycles waste electrical and electronic items, specialising in the recycling of flat screen televisions and monitors in compliance with EU WEEE directives. However, the majority of the electrical equipment the company works with comes from council-run and commercial recycling sites and, as lockdown restrictions took hold and such sites closed their operations, the company saw almost its entire revenue stream disappear overnight. This, coupled with delays in receiving the relevant permits as the Environment Agency cut back to a skeleton staff, left the company in dire straits.
Founder of Vision Recycling, Dan Yeomans, takes up the narrative:
“Demand for our services died as council and commercial sites were shut down and staff sent home. We had a stockpile of equipment that we continued to recycle but as that stockpile was exhausted, we had no choice but to furlough our staff and let those who were self-employed seek other work.”
Not long before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Vision Recycling had received Proof of Concept (POC) funding of circa £30k from Worcestershire County Council towards a development project with a total budget of £70k. This funding allowed the company to develop a novel recycling process for flat screen televisions that sets it apart from the competition:
“We are one of only three companies in the UK that specialises in the recycling of flat screens. It is a highly regulated industry and it generally takes around 15 minutes to recycle one screen. We have developed our own machinery at Vision Recycling that allows us to complete the process in a fraction of the time.”
Dan confirmed that he used the time in lockdown to further develop Vision Recycling’s machinery and processes to the point where the company can now recycle one flat screen television every two minutes, with Dan believing that one screen every 60 seconds is achievable in the near future. With the reopening of commercial and council-run recycling centres at the start of July, Dan has happily been able to bring back his furloughed and self-employed staff and is seeing a surge in demand as screens that became surplus to requirements during lockdown find their way to recycling sites. Dan concluded by commenting that:
“Funding from Worcestershire County Council allowed us to refine our process during lockdown to the point that we are more efficient and more effective than before. We are now in a better position to build on our relationships with supply chain partners to better manage future lockdown scenarios and the fluctuations in demand seen as a result.”