Re-using scrap metal may well be the ‘original’ form of recycling, a cost-effective way of getting a second use from a precious commodity.

In Ripon, the habit of scrapping metal has become firmly established as a way not only to recycle, but to help local charities, with everything from empty drink cans to redundant household appliances and even cars being used to raise cash.

The idea came from Caroline Bentham, who a few years ago ran a cafe that moved to supplying drinks in cans rather than plastic bottles, with the empties gathered for scrap.

With negligible returns, she came up with the idea of setting up a charity account while chatting with staff at Ripon’s Andersons scrap dealers.

The rest is history, with increasing numbers of people joining the initiative and money collected being used to support local causes, such as St Wilfrid’s Parade, the Arts Hub, a toy library and Ripon Men’s Shed.

Ripon scrap metal collection

With several thousand pounds a year now available to help similar causes, Caroline and others involved in Ripon Recycling Fund have decided to formalise arrangements and are in the process of setting out a constitution and taking other steps to formalise applications for help.

“When I had the cafe, the money had to go into a business account and I started chatting to the woman behind the counter, who suggested a charity account. We set it up there and then,” she said.

“Subsequently I started taking other things and started talking about it. It went on social media,” she said.

“People started bringing scrap to the cafe, the idea spread and some people took it upon themselves to do it for their street.”

An electrical company joined in, donating appliances swapped for new models – a significant gesture that helped to boost income.

“Some people put in cans for 50 pence, others have taken old radiators, even old cars.

“Every so often, we hand the money out to some charities. I had no idea it would get as big as it has and am in the process of setting it up more formally, with a constitution.

“Now people can put forwards something for support and we have a group of four people to look at that, with proper paper applications,” she said.