Techbuyer, the Cone Exchange and the world’s “poshest skip”

Techbuyer are always looking for ways to reduce waste and create value where possible. With this in mind, we have set up a partnership with local scrap superstars the Cone Exchange, a community project that creates a positive impact in Harrogate by turning waste into quality refurbished items. Last week, we visited their site to find out more about what they do and the ways they help wider society.

Trash to Treasure

Reusing and refurbishing unwanted materials generates huge value, as our visit to Cone Exchange confirmed. Their overheads are funded by Bettys and Taylors as part of the company’s commitment to social responsibility. This means that 100% of profit goes directly to the Cone Exchange’s charitable partnerships which include tree planting in the local area.

Similar to the core of our business at Techbuyer, the Cone Exchange refurbishes material that would otherwise go to waste and turns it into high quality product. Seeing potential in rubbish is becoming an increasingly popular topic amongst leading brands, with Adidas vowing to use only recycled products by 2024 and an explosion of recycled fashion brands coming into the market.

The “refurb process”

The community is at the heart of the Cone Exchange, who work in partnership with a range of local charities to provide work experience for young people with learning difficulties. Tasks range from sorting and categorising items to making decorations with a die cutter. Chris Powell, who runs the Cone Exchange and has a background in working with people with additional needs explained that repetitive tasks are satisfying for young people with autism. The organisation also connects with crafting groups interested in making objects to raise money for good causes. The involvement of the community is what makes the project so successful.

End product

The Cone Exchange runs a Craft Shop that is open to the public and sells a variety of arts and crafts, books and decorations. Described by Chris Powell as a “posh skip”, the colourful treasure trove of wool, buttons, boxes, ribbons and craft supplies were all created from excess materials generated from local companies and donations from the public. The end products are as good as new and around 75% lower than the retail price.

It is wonderful to see what a positive social impact these goods have once they leave the shop. For instance, schools across Yorkshire use materials like these in their art classes. Community projects can be supplied with free materials for projects like poppy making for Remembrance Day, and craft groups can stock up on supplies for their activities. 

Techbuyer’s support

At the end of last year Techbuyer donated polystyrene foam to help the project gather more materials, which Chris and his team set to work on immediately. Within just an hour they turned the foam into Christmas snowflake decorations, which were a great success with schools. The plan is to generate more of the snowflake shapes throughout the year in readiness for the next festive season.

To this end, we have organised weekly collections with Cone Exchange. The first of these was on Friday. Working with Cone Exchange is a great opportunity to prevent non-recyclable materials going to landfill, and it is incredible to see immediate results. We look forward to continuing to work with Chris and the rest of the team over the next year with our warehouse material donations, as well as our own small Techbuyer community project.

Wider involvement

Chris gave us information about the range of small items that we as a company can collect to make money for charity. For example, the top of a washing up liquid bottle is worth 5p to Ellie’s Brain Tumour Trust, and used stamps are worth £6 per kilo to Oxfam. The plan is to collect the list of items and deliver to Cone Exchange who will coordinate with the relevant charity. It’s a great way of transforming unwanted items into a resource for meaningful projects, both locally and worldwide.

Chris and his team are always on the lookout for more materials and have connections with many local businesses, so get in touch with Cone Exchange if you would like to be involved.