URGENT: Computer recycling: take by Friday 19 March


Readers of our Winter newsletter will know that Shelford resident Mike Nettleton (*protected email*) collects unwanted computer hardware to be recycled for public benefit.  Here is his latest news:

Computer recycling Friday 19 March. We’ve arranged for unwanted computer hardware (PCs, laptops, printers, monitors, etc.) to be collected for recycling on 19 March. We can also now take mobile phones again. Recycling is done by Recycle-Computers, based in Watford. They refurbish PCs, monitors, printers, etc. and then give the hardware to schools, charities, etc. which don’t need/can’t afford new equipment. Anything which can’t be used is WEEE recycled. They have been recycling in the area since the early 2000s, initially as a result of an initiative by the former vicar of Great Shelford, Mike Goater. Please dig out any computer hardware that you no longer need and/or is broken and either drop it round to me or give me a ring (07905 356468).

Just as a reminder – we also recycle printer cartridges and mobile phones. Where they have economic value, they are recycled through Recycle4Charity, who then make a contribution to Tommy’s (the premature birth charity): http://www.tommys.org Where the cartridges have no economic value, they are recycled through the manufacturers own recycling scheme. Again, please just drop any old cartridges round.

Over the last couple of months we’ve had a major push (with the Great Shelford Parochial Charities and COVID support group) to provide laptops to children for home schooling. We had over 60 laptops donated; something like 30% of those have been usable and have been donated to local schools and individual children. Those which are too old, broken or whatever will be properly recycled, so nothing goes to landfill. Every machine (whether usable or not) has been wiped and those which are usable have been upgraded to the latest version of Windows and had office and video/music software installed at no cost to the schools or individual children.

What a wonderful initiative – please support Mike if you can.

Annual Open Meeting 7 December 2020 – report

2G3S Annual Open Meeting 7 December 2020 – by Zoom

16 people present, with 4 apologies.  Claire Lord chaired.

Review of 2020

2 Conversation Evenings in person (Natural Disasters; Eco-friendly gardening); 3 by Zoom (Cook stoves in Africa; Extinction Rebellion; Sustainable Diet).  Better attendance in person, although the Zoom meetings still averaged around 15 people.

1 Repair Café, in Great Shelford at the end of February.  Held jointly with GS Free Church who ran a Swish (high-quality clothes swap) at the same time.  Very successful with nearly 70 items seen and 12 repairers present – over 50% items repaired.

Other Events: Open Eco home; guided nature walks; fruit and veg swap; ‘The Story of Plastic’ online film show and discussion.

Campaigns: SE Busway proposals; Greater Cambridge Green Infrastructure survey.  Traffic surveys in Great Shelford.  Involvement with 4 local bids to South Cambridgeshire’s Zero Carbon grant scheme, all successful.  Major representation at MP Anthony Browne’s Zoom calls as part of The Time Is Now campaign and subsequently.

Plans for 2021

Agreed to meet every month and alternate planning meetings with events; probably all on Mondays or Thursdays.

Conversation Evenings: It was thought that we should ensure conversation evenings include what actions we can take locally in our community or as individuals, and pick events that will be attractive more widely in the community.

Agreement of themes: Water, local planning issues and possibly some of the strands in the government’s 10-point plan on climate change, eg green public transport, cycling and walking; greener buildings; protecting our natural environment.

Other events considered: cycle rides; nature walks; another Wandlebury event; virtual Repair Café (like Gardeners’ Question Time?)


Convenor: Claire Lord

Co-chairs: Sophi Berridge, Peter Fane

Treasurer: Chris Cooper

Meeting notes: Jane Chisholm, Helen Hale

Publicity: Beth Atkin (social media), Helen Hale (village magazines), Linda Whitebread (newsletter and website)

Repair Cafés: Chris Cooper, Yasmin Emerson

Greener Sawston rep: Yasmin Emerson

You can contact any of us at moc.l1620740144iamg@1620740144ssssp1620740144uorgn1620740144eerg1620740144 – say who the email is for and it will be forwarded.

Circular Economy: latest developments

Hurrah! – the European Parliament has just voted to support the Right to Repair – more here.

Closer to home, the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee report ‘Electronic Waste and the Circular Economy’ came out last week; see the full report here.  It turns out the UK produces the world’s second highest amount of e-waste per person……

But a positive outcome is the committee’s 27 recommendations including enshrining the right to repair in law; enforcing access to repair manuals and access to affordable spare parts; and the ability to repair products without needing access to physical or software tools specifically designed to be a barrier to independent servicing or repair.  (Of course, there is a way to go before these recommendations, if accepted, become law.)
Tom Bragg of Cambridgeshire Repair Cafes has done a fantastic job in pulling out the most salient points:
  • the UK generates the second highest amount of E-waste per person in the world (23.9 kg/person/y), after Norway (26kg). 
  • the average European household has 44 electronic or electrical items at home plus another 45 lamps or light fittings
  • Natural resource extraction and processing makes up approximately 50 per cent of the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced worldwide [I assume this includes mining, transport, manufacture, etc]
  • Though the UK collects most of its electronic waste at Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs)137 it is also the European country with the least HWRCs per inhabitant and one of lowest per 1000 km2 – mostly out of town and only accessible by car.
  • extending the lifetime of all washing machines, smartphones, laptops and vacuum cleaners in the EU by one year would lead to annual savings of around four million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2030, which is equivalent to taking over two million cars off the roads for a year
  • average lifetime of a washing machine fell from an average life of 10 years to seven years between 2000 and 2010
  • large household appliances being replaced within the first five years of their service life due to a defect increased from 3.5 per cent in 2004 to 8.3 per cent in 2013
  • for fridges, the UK had the lowest average replacement age (5.1 years)
  • In 2013, the average smartphone lifetimes in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK were around 18.3 months, rising to 21.6 months in 2016, potentially due to the decreasing rate of innovation
  • 65 per cent of people feel frustrated about how long products last, and 62 per cent at the difficulty of repair. 75 per cent said that Government should ensure businesses produce repairable and recyclable products
  • 40 per cent of Smartphones running the Android operating system are no longer receiving security updates.  iPhones, up to iPhone 6 released in 2015, are now considered obsolete
  • Restart Project has estimated that over 1,000 community repair events logged in its online system have saved an estimated 17,864 kg of electronic waste and an estimated 280,894 kg CO2 emissions
  • Smash the display on Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro Max, for example, and you can expect to pay £326 to get it fixed by the tech giant if it’s out of warranty. If the damage sustained by the iPhone comes under ‘other damage’ (faults not related to the display), that number could rise to a whopping £596.44
  • 1,714,000 tonnes of EEE (Electrical and Electronic Equipment) were purchased in the UK in 2019.  505,445 tonnes WEEE (Waste EEE) were collected, down from a peak of 589,850 tonnes in 2016
  • 155,000 tonnes were thrown away in domestic bins and incinerated or landfilled in 2017
  • 190,000 tonnes, equivalent to 527 million small old unused electronical items, are hoarded by UK Households (av 20 /household)
  • 140 million cables are held in people’s homes across the UK, enough to go around the earth 5 times
  • 2.5% – 10% estimated amount of electronics that are re-used by others

The Committee’s recommendations most relevant to Repair Cafés are:

10.   We support this proposal and urge the Government to bring this forward with the aim of removing electronics with unduly short lives from the market. The expected lifetime label must be linked to the minimum lifespan guarantee. Particular attention must be paid to where the burden of proof lies between consumers and producers.  (Paragraph 94)

11.   The Government must enshrine the right to repair in law, enforcing access to (1) repair manuals; (2) access to affordable spare parts for products; and (3) ability to repair products without repairers needing access to physical or software tools specifically designed to be a barrier to independent servicing or repair. (Paragraph 109)

12.   Technology companies, repair organisations and the UK Government should collaborate to ensure safety is ensured during the repair of electronics. This could be through creating professional standards, that will in turn drive more consumer trust. This collaboration should also look at the protection of intellectual property. (Paragraph 110)

13.   The Government should mandate that products be labelled with a repairability score, based on the products design, the availability and cost of spare parts, access and ease of use of repair manuals. This will incentivise companies to go beyond the minimum requirements already established. Companies with better repairability scores should be rewarded with a reduction in modulated fees for their extended producer responsibility scheme contributions. (Paragraph 111)

14.   The UK Government should encourage repairability through reducing VAT charged on the repair of electrical and electronic products. (Paragraph 112)

Thanks to Cambridgeshire Repair Cafes for this report.

Repair Cafes – what’s happening?

Because of the pandemic, there  have been no face-to-face Repair Cafes since March.

Circular Cambridge, who co-ordinate our local Repair Cafes, are unfortunately not anticipating face-to-face Cafes returning before 2021.  However, possible developments in the meantime include repair tutorials on YouTube, and online public-facing skill-sharing sessions.  Excitingly, they are also forging links with the community workshop Makespace, in Mill Lane, Cambridge, which has space and equipment where repairs could potentially be carried out.

For a record of a conversation (3 November) introducing Repair Cafe people to Makespace and a virtual tour of Makespace facilities, click here.  For a response from local repairers and a description of the Repair Cafe process from a repairer point of view (10 November), click here.

Meanwhile, 2G3S is seeking  a person or persons to help organise future Repair Cafes more locally – if you might be interested in being part of the team contact us at moc.l1620740144iamg@1620740144ssssp1620740144uorgn1620740144eerg1620740144, or join us at the AOM on 7 December.

For up-to-date information on Repair Cafe developments in Cambridgeshire go to the Circular Cambridge Repair Cafe page and follow the links.


Built-in Obsolescence

See this article from The Guardian which talks about built-in obsolescence, especially of digital equipment.  It doesn’t mention this, but I understand that when the first filament light bulbs were invented, it would  have been possible to manufacture them to last indefinitely – but it was decided that that wouldn’t be good for business, and so a limited lifespan for each bulb became the norm.  So ‘built-in obsolescence’ is not a new concept, but shocking nonetheless given the mountains of waste we are creating at a time of shrinking resources.

Good to see the reference to Repair Cafes!

Coronavirus epidemic

Please note that, as you would expect, we are not able to meet in person during the current lockdown conditions.

Planning is still going ahead online.  Contact us if you would like to participate.

CCF Sustainable Fashion Festival 21 March

Fashion for good
Cambridge’s second Sustainable Fashion Festival will make it easier than ever to look good whilst caring for the environment.

Festival organiser, Nicole Barton of Cambridge Carbon Footprint, says: “This day is all about solutions. For alternatives to buying new you can talk to The Nuw Wardrobe about renting your clothes in the Cambridge area, or swap your unworn clothes at a big Swish (clothes swap party).  30% of the average wardrobe is unworn so why not refresh it with pieces that fit you and you’ll actually wear? ”

The sustainable pop-up market will be a great place to find new clothes that will allow you to #WearYourValues. At the luxurious end will be beautifully made organic cotton garments, vegan shoes by NOAH and bags made to last a lifetime.  And an array of upcycled, second hand and vintage stalls will mean there should be something for everyone.

Sustainable stylist Roberta Lee will be running workshops on colour analysis and creating a capsule wardrobe.  Meanwhile, the Cambridge Sewing Repair Café team will fix your ripped, worn and tired clothes for free.

The public are invited to bring all their empty make-up containers and paraphernalia to the BeautyCycle recycling point run by John Lewis who’ll also be there sharing news of a new cash-for-clothes scheme that’ll pay customers for unwanted clothes.

The Sustainable Fashion Festival takes place at St Barnabas’ Church, Mill Road, Cambridge CB12BD, 11am – 4:30pm on Sat 21 st March.

Everything is free, apart from the styling workshops; booking is required for workshops.

See http://circularcambridge.org/fashion-fest-2020/ for the full programme.

Upcoming Repair Cafes from March 2020

For more information go to http://circularcambridge.org/repaircafe/ and follow the links.

6 March: CB1 – CB1 Community Room

Huxley House, Mill Park, Cambridge

11:00 am – 2:00 pm


14 March: Eversden

Eversden Village Hall, 4 Chapel Road, Eversden CB23 1HP

10:00 am – 1:00 pm


15 March:  Soham Repair Café, Swish and Toy Swap

Soham Library, 7 Clay Street, Soham CB7 5HJ

10:00 am – 2:00 pm


21 March: Sewing Repair Café at Sustainable Fashion Festival

St Barnabas’, Mill Road CB1 2BD

11.00 am – 4.30 pm


28 March: Abington

The Institute (opposite the Three Tuns), 66 High Street, Great Abington CB21 6AE

10.00 am – 1.00 pm
4 April: Cottenham

Cottenham Community Centre Coffee Shop, High St, Cottenham CB24 8RZ

10:00 am – 2:00 pm


25 April: Fulbourn

The Townley Memorial Hall Fulbourn CB21 5BS

2.00 pm– 5.00 pm



2 May: Eddington

16 May: Sawston
6 June: Cambourne



Great Shelford Repair Cafe 2 – 5 pm Saturday 29 February

Our latest Repair Café where we shall repair electrical, electronic and mechanical items, bikes, textiles, jewellery, and general bits & bobs.  Watch the repairers work on your item and get their advice; have a cuppa and piece of cake while you wait.  All free; donations welcome.  You can just turn up with your item, but you may have to wait; it’s better to book it in.  Bookings will be open from 3 – 27 February inclusive – go to circularcambridge.org and follow the links.

Note that the Free Church are organising a Swish event (exchange of good quality second-hand clothes) at the church at the same time – see local publicity