Liberate Lego for charity, urges Zapper

Character forming: Patrick Neill has launched the Lego scheme which pays the customer by the kilo or gives the option to donate directly to charity.
Character forming: Patrick Neill has launched the Lego scheme which pays the customer by the kilo or gives the option to donate directly to charity.
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A technology company is looking to revolutionise recycling of old Lego bricks and is hoping to help charity along the way.

Zapper.co.uk, the BBC Dragon’s Den-winning website that allows people to cash in on unwanted clutter, has launched a unique scheme that recycles the world’s most famous toy.

‘Liberate your Lego’ pays the customer by the kilo and offers the option to donate directly to charity.

The scheme is being led by Zapper’s Harrogate-based business development director, Patrick Neill.

He told The Yorkshire Post that the inspiration for the idea was partly down to his own experiences with his nephew “who has about five huge boxes of Lego and he’s now moving on and heading to university”.

Mr Neill also said that Zapper was looking at targeting families and that looking at Lego was a good idea due to the toy’s popularity.

The scheme has been going for four months and has already elicited a great response.

Mr Neill said: “We’ve been getting quite a large of volume of people selling us their lego, across the country and from Yorkshire already.

“By the nature of the product there’s not many households that have got children in it that do not have some form of Lego.”

Zapper has pledged to double the payout to charity for all trades in August that contain the toy.

“Yorkshire could raise tens of thousands for charity if everyone recycled their Lego,” said Mr Neill.

“The summer holidays are a fantastic time to mobilise the kids to clear out their rooms and donate unwanted toys – we’re just offering the chance to get rid of all those bits of unloved Lego lying around in dusty boxes, and give it a new life with a new family,” he added.

Mr Neill says that there is a demand for second-hand Lego, both amongst collectors and the general public.

He said: “You’ve got the collectors and people who build the large displays, whether somebody is doing the Eiffel Tower or doing a model of a city. Quite often what those collectors will do is they will use new pieces for the outside but to make up the body of whatever they’re building they’ll quite often use old pieces on the inside.”

The popularity of Lego has even led to a stock market being created for them.

Mr Neill said: “Believe it or not there is actually a stock market in Lego bricks.

“Different bricks depending on their colour, shape, size have all got a slightly different value associated with them.”

However, Zapper does not intened to become brokers on the Lego stock market just yet.

Mr Neill said: “We’re not getting involved in that side of the business.”

A recent change in business model has had a positive effect on the group’s growth.

Mr Neill said: “The company has been in existence for a number of years and I think any start-up goes through ups and downs. Over the last six months we’ve changed our business model, that change has had a very positive effect on our growth.

“It is quite a competitive market with the most significant company Music Magpie who have quite a large presence across the UK. We’re one of the smaller ones but that allows us to be a lot more nimble.”

Turning down the Dragon

Zapper was set up by Ben Hardyment and Mat White, in 2009, initially to recycle second-hand books.

They then extended this to recycling used media such as DVDs, CDs and video games.

In 2012 Zapper appeared on BBC TV show Dragons’ Den and managed to secure £250,000 investment from Theo Paphitis.

But in the end the firm decided against entering into a deal with the Dragon and the shareholders decided to continue investing in the business themselves.

Mr Neill was introduced by one of the shareholders, from Harrogate, to Mr Hardyment and Mr White and has been working as business development director for the business over the last three months.

The firm says it is looking to expand its product mix and sees recycling children’s toys and family items as an area of growth, especially as many people are moving away from physical media such as DVDs and CDs.