At AO, we passionately care about doing our bit for the communities we serve, and we understand our responsibilities for the world in which we live in. We’re really proud of what we’ve already done, especially investing in circularity – refurbishing, repairing and recycling e-waste in-house to the best standards. We’re looking forward to taking our customers on the journey with us as we accelerate our efforts to become a net zero company. Continue to find out what we’ve already done to make our operations more sustainable!
Over 155,000 tonnes of electricals are discarded in the UK every year, instead of being reused or recycled. Even when they are recycled, research shows that appliances are often not recycled properly. When we learnt of the recycling standard in the UK, we were not satisfied and so made it our mission to incorporate AO recycling into our one AO provision. Our recycling is to the highest standard and in 2019 was the only reporting UK fridge recycling plant which met the UK standard for collecting harmful gases.
That’s why we focus on collecting as many old appliances as possible and ensure they are properly disposed of. During covid our services remained operational, collecting and recycling more products than ever before.
In July 2021, we celebrated a new milestone of recycling over two million fridges. Lined-up, that’s a whopping 2,000+ miles equalling the distance from Edinburgh to the North Pole! We’re so pleased that not only have we saved a huge two million fridges from being fly-tipped on the street, but we’ve disposed of them in the safest way possible.
We make recycling as easy as possible for our customers, whether you bought the appliance from us or not! We’ll come and take all kinds of large domestic appliances off your hands to save you a trip to the tip. We will then take it back to our in-house facilities where we recycle to the highest standard and maximise the value recovered. Essentially, the appliances are carefully broken apart and sorted into metals, plastics and insulation foam at our own state-of-the-art plant.
Our ultimate goal is to create new appliances from the recycled materials of old ones. We are collaborating with brands to make this goal a reality and reduce the demand for virgin raw materials to be mined at significant environmental cost. So far, we have used the materials from old appliances in the production of fence posts and air vent components. We’re continually working to improve the quality of the recycled content and will bring you along on our journey to when we’ve perfected making new appliances out of old appliances.
We’ve partnered with award-winning online parts store eSpares to help customers find spare parts for their appliances, so that they don’t need to buy an entire new product if they only need to replace a broken part.
When an appliance is thrown and out and comes back to us, we inspect it and repair where possible. This is a more sustainable solution for those appliances that aren’t quite ready for end-of-life treatment, keeping them in circulation for longer and avoiding waste where possible. We were the first in the world to be certified to a new standard for turning waste electricals into reuse appliances. Once our experts have skilfully repaired the good quality and durable appliances, we sell at heavily discounted prices through our AO outlets stores as well as third party outlets. We like to think of them as pre-loved appliances – after they leave us they go to new homes to carry on their job. Here you can browse and buy the pre-loved appliances from a variety of well-known manufacturers.
We are committed to being a net zero company and have signed up to the British Retail Consortium Net Zero Roadmap.
We are in the process of mapping our greenhouse gas emissions across our operations and value chain. So far, we have a top-line analysis which is helping us understand what areas of the business we need to decarbonise.
We are on our way to transitioning to operating fully on renewable energy. Since recently setting our target of using 100% renewable energy by 2030, we’ve moved fast and now over 90% of our electricity comes from renewable suppliers and we are focusing on our purchasing agreements to ensure we meet this target as quickly as possible.
We are also trialling different electric vehicles to understand their limitations and the requirements for us to decarbonise our fleet. We look to engage local students in and around our logistics base in Crewe. Winners of one student engagement competition named AO’s first EV charge points at Potters bar and Heywood outbases – meet Port Pottermus and Anchor Bay. We carefully plan all delivery journeys, so that after we have delivered products we go on to collect old appliances and product packaging, reducing wasted journeys or empty trucks.
We want to improve our packaging and ditch the single use wrap, and our AO Logistics have been working hard to do so by inventing AO Armour. This is still in the trial phase, but once we have perfected it, the super strong packaging will be used again and again for multiple deliveries.