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First Mile Launches Return & Recycle for Workplaces

First Mile Recycling Bins
19 October 2022 | Updated 20 October 2022

Businesses and workplaces throughout the UK can now help to power the circular economy thanks to the launch of First Mile’s Return & Recycle, a low-cost recycling scheme that focuses on making it easy to return items that are traditionally tricky to recycle.

Launched to coincide with Recycle Week - 17-23 October 2022 - First Mile’s Return & Recycle is a simple, yet highly effective recycling service for businesses and workplaces of all types and sizes, from indie coffee shops to large office blocks.

Founded in 2004 by Bruce Bratley, First Mile makes it easy for UK businesses to recycle and improve corporate sustainability. Serving over 30,000 customers, First Mile collects 65,000 tonnes every year, with a focus on closing the loop where possible. First Mile is at the forefront of the waste industry, investing in technologies and continually innovating to transform how businesses recycle, manage waste and reduce their impact on the environment. 


"This nationwide solution to recycle the hard-to-recycle is at a sensible price and ensures recycling takes place through one of our specialist partners.”


– Bruce Bratley
CEO, First Mile


Creating a Recycling Point in Your Building


Customers order a pack of prepaid-return boxes, which transform into a smart recycling collection point within a building. Each box holds 15kg - enough, for example, for 1200 coffee cups - and converts into a recycling point for one of six categories of material.

Collected boxes are returned to First Mile’s Returns Service Centre (RSC) where their contents are separated by material type before being processed and sent onto waste partners to be recycled to obtain the highest value in the waste hierarchy. 

First Mile have separated hard-to-recycle items into six streams to increase recycling rates while also making separation for recycling feasible. Streams currently on offer include Tech & Electronics, Kitchen, Fashion, Compostables, Plastics and Paper Cups.


Powering Circular Economy


Speaking about the new service, First Mile founder and CEO, Bruce Bratley, says: “By introducing First Mile’s Return & Recycle service we are helping to power the circular economy for our clients and their customers. This nationwide solution to recycle the hard-to-recycle is at a sensible price and ensures recycling takes place through one of our specialist partners”.

The new service complements First Mile’s existing waste and recycling services, which operate throughout London and Birmingham. Ordering a Return and Recycle Point is straightforward and can be done in minutes through Once a point is full and ready for collection, simply scan the QR code on the back of the box to book an internal collection.

Examples of items that can be recycled through the First Mile Returns Service, include:

  1. Kitchen – including coffee pods, corks, cartons, water filters and coffee cups

  2. Compostables – including cups, trays, film and packaging

  3. Plastics – including bottles, sprays, pump dispensers, pouches, bags and wraps

  4. Fashion – including clothes, footwear and coat hangers

  5. Tech and electronics – including phones, chargers, laptops and inkjet cartridges

  6. Paper cups – coffee cups, cold drinks cups, clean food paper pots

Recycling Week


Now in its 19th year, Recycle Week is a celebration and encouragement of recycling – in 2020, WRAP under the Recycle Now brand thanked people for continued efforts during the pandemic. Whilst generally more people became environmentally conscious during this period, there were disruptions to commercial waste management chains. Rubbermaid Commercial Products published findings from their second Love Recycling study, just after the 2020 Recycling Week, highlighting the difficulty of dealing with the larger amounts of discarded PPE. It's vital that the regrowth of services post-pandemic does not cause a lapse in consideration for the reusability and disposal of our ever-growing waste outputs.

Recycling week also coincides with Fire Door Safety Week, together drawing attention to the safety of both ourselves and the planet.


Picture: the First Mile recycling boxes. Image credit: First Mile.

Article written by Bailey Sparkes | Published 19 October 2022


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