Cardiff Rivers Group (CRG) have been looking after the watercourses in and around Cardiff since 2009. They hold clean up events every three weeks and have more than 800 volunteers on their membership list.

The group generates significant income from recycling metal, car batteries and electrical cable, which helps cover their running costs.

How does your metal recycling scheme work?

We are a registered waste carrier and use our truck and trailer to collect metal from all over Cardiff.

Items are removed from the local environment by volunteers at group litter picks and donated by individuals and local organisations who want to recycle and raise funds for our group.

We then take the metal to be weighed in by European Metal Recycling (EMR) a major processor of scrap and waste material based in Cardiff Docks. In the last financial year, CRG recycled over 47 tonnes of scrap which generated over £15,000.

Not everything goes to the scrapyard though. Quite a lot is still serviceable and so we either sell these items or donate them to other groups.

What resources are needed to run the scheme?

There are practical things like having a truck, trailer and fuel to collect and transport the metal. We also need tools and PPE, as well as somewhere to sort and store the collected items.

Time is another vital resource. Not just in terms of volunteer time to carry out collections, sort and weigh in the items, but also time spent promoting the scheme via social media, email and word of mouth.

This time has been well spent though – we now have people getting in touch to arrange collections or bringing ‘treasure’ along to our events.

How has the scheme developed?

We are proud to have partnered with and supported a lot of small, local litter picking groups and allotment societies. They’ve collected and saved their own scrap metal, which we’ve been able to sell on their behalf. The money has been donated back to these groups to help cover costs of things like insurance.

We’ve also set up some more lucrative, larger, regular partnership arrangements with Cardiff and Vale Council Park Ranger Services, Pedal Power and Nextbike.

We secured power tools and training to enable our volunteers to deal with much larger, heavier items such as dumped cars and motorbikes.

The other big development has been the ability to recycle nitrous oxide cannisters which litter Cardiff’s streets. This wasn’t possible when we first started working with EMR due to safety issues, but we were able to come up with a system which allows the cannisters to be weighed in separately. Last year, we recycled 2,750 nitrous oxide cannisters.

To find out more about Cardiff Rivers Group, visit their website cardiffriversgroup.org.uk or follow them on X.

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