Silhouette of people in the foreground with city lights in the background

Magna’s Ultimate Recycler

Will Stirling’s dedication to fixing things instead of throwing them away is evident throughout his home in Norton Canes, England.

There are 50 vacuum cleaners in one bedroom and seven more in the living room. A lawnmower in need of repair is stashed in the kitchen, along with two irons and three coffeemakers. Broken computers, table lamps and microwaves retrieved from the local dump await his attention, too. After the items are fixed, Stirling donates them or sells them for a modest price.

The maintenance engineer at a Magna plant in England is passionate about saving the planet through recycling and reusing discarded objects and material.

He also volunteers at the Lichfield Repair and Share Café, the winner of a 2022 BBC Make a Difference award in the environmental category for his commitment to keeping things out of landfills. Stirling typically repairs five to 15 electrical items a session, everything from Christmas tree lights to hair dryers.

Two people presenting William Stirling with an award from BBC Radio

“I see recycling as a challenge,” Stirling said. “It saves money in the long run.”

He adds: “Lots of things can be repaired. We’ve all got to pull together and do our bit. It’s too easy to dismiss what is happening to the environment.”

At work, Stirling is one of four maintenance technicians who help to ensure the smooth running of six collaborative robots and assembly lines through preventive maintenance checks and other measures. Environmental consciousness is at the forefront of every shift.

“Yesterday, I came across a broken sensor,” he said. “Rather than throw it away, I repaired it to be used as a spare. The problem was a broken cable going into the sensor. I knew I could fix it. A sensor may seem like a small thing, but it costs $100, and those expenses add up. That’s my mentality – don’t waste anything.”

Ehson Ameer standing in front of a poster receiving Save on Energy Award
Ehson Ameer with a group of people standing in front of a poster receiving Save on Energy Award
Group of people standing on stairs outside of a manufacturing plant

Sometimes his repairs reap big benefits. Case in point: A 1970s cuckoo clock featuring the cartoon characters Tweety and Sylvester the Cat that Stirling fixed as a Lichfield volunteer.

“A woman picked it up at a trunk sale and brought it in” he said. “I did some research and it turned out to be a rare clock worth more than $500. She also had a remote control that doubled its value. After I fixed it, she started crying. It brought a smile to my face. If I can make others happy and protect the planet, my job is done.”

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