A Business with bases in Bradford, which describes itself as “modern-day miners”, has experienced rapid expansion in the past decade from a garage to multiple plants.
Ucan Recycling had humble beginnings in a garage in Harehills, Leeds, 15 years ago and now has three depots in Bradford and recycles e-waste nationwide.
The company most recently opened a plant in the Low Moor area, in April.
It means Ucan has more than 30,000 square feet of recycling space in the city, with two other plants at Wyke and Buttershaw.
Gareth Williams, Business Development Manager at Ucan, joined the company after he was made redundant from his job in the print industry during lockdown.
He said: “There’s not that many that specialise in electric waste, people just take their stuff to the tip.
“They will be the fossils of the future, you’ll be digging up an old Mac underground.
“We’re modern-day miners really.”
Mr Williams focused on sustainability in his previous job and he was interested in bringing this to Ucan, as well as working in his hometown of Bradford. His role is to educate households and big businesses about WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment recycling).
The boom in the industry has come about from a revolution in the way we work, forced upon the country and world initially by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Williams said: “We’ve massively grown since lockdown, people work at home more, there’s masses and masses of office spaces.”
“The hazardous waste has got to go somewhere.”
An important part of the process is securely dealing with data on the devices the firm are presented with, as some are repurposed or reused. This includes wiping all data and shredding hard drives for extra security.
But the majority of the items they receive have reached their end of life and the precious materials in the products can be recycled.
The increase in demand has led the business to launch a dedicated off-shoot – Ucan Secure IT – which will focus on e-waste.
Rob Seal, CEO of the company, said: “New regulations on POPS (persistent organic pollutants) means that a significant amount of WEEE is now classed as hazardous.
“Ucan Recycling has invested heavily to ensure that the increased demand of e-waste is managed properly and the data within the tech disposed of safely.
“We are experiencing fast growth and are excited to announce our new arm of the business Ucan Secure IT, which will specialise in data destruction and computer recycling.’
It is a different world to the one Mr Seal first embarked upon, collecting cans in his garage and taking them to be recycled until he was able to fund recycling them himself.
Ucan now employs 30 staff members, across multiple teams including collection, IT and marketing.
Mr Williams will be running a new pilot scheme which will allow residents across West Yorkshire to drop off old unwanted tech items free of charge so they can be recycled properly.
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