Bridges backs circular economy business Tier 1 to reduce e-waste

The Bridges Sustainable Growth Funds have completed their fourth investment this year, backing Manchester-based Tier 1 – a pioneering circular economy business that specialises in refurbishing and recycling used IT hardware.

Tier 1 is helping to tackle a growing global challenge: electronic waste. According to the UN, 54m tonnes of e-waste was produced globally in 2019, of which 83% was not recycled sustainably (typically ending up in landfill where it can be extremely toxic).

Led by CEO Jonathan Rose, Tier 1 works with corporate clients to safely and securely dispose of their end-of-life IT equipment. It then refurbishes these assets and re-sells them, both through its own online channel and via third party IT resellers. Any assets that cannot be resold are broken up for recycling. As well as reducing e-waste, this also provides customers with a compelling alternative to buying new IT equipment, both from a price and sustainability perspective. Sales of refurbished IT equipment have been increasing year on year, and Tier 1’s differentiated market position and focus on quality means it is well-placed to benefit from the further growth of this sector over the next decade.

We were impressed with Tier 1’s strong social value focus, too. It has an exclusive partnership with the charity ComputerAid, which works to broaden access to technology in developing markets. And it has also developed an innovative programme with the charity Antz Junction, whereby serving prisoners are given the chance to find work and receive further holistic support after they are released – for which the business received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2019. As well as having a direct impact on the lives of vulnerable people, Tier 1’s commitment to social value is now a critical part of its customer proposition.

Jonathan Rose, CEO at Tier 1, said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with Bridges ahead of our next phase of growth. We really wanted to find an investor who shared our values and our impact focus, but could also help us achieve our growth ambitions. Bridges was the obvious choice. We’ve built a really strong platform already in the U.K., and with Bridges’ help, we believe we can both scale the business and have an even greater positive impact for people and the planet.”

The plan is to help Tier 1 accelerate its organic growth plan, drawing on Bridges’ 20 years’ experience of helping purpose-driven businesses to accelerate their growth and enhance their impact. We’ll also be actively looking at acquisitions in what is currently a very fragmented market. Over the last 5 years, we have developed strong domain knowledge in the circular economy thanks to our investment in World of Books, whose technology enables the resale and recycling of used books and other media. We’re looking forward to working with the Tier 1 team to build another UK recommerce champion.