Digital & IT

Published: February 22, 2020 | Updated: February 22, 2020

Entrepreneur’s message to fellow businesses: “It doesn’t cost the earth to save the planet”

By Andrew Diprose, editor

Entrepreneur Leon Lindblad is a man on a mission.

It can be summed up in nine words.

“It doesn’t cost the earth to save the planet.”

As the boss of CFA Trading, the largest Microsoft authorised refurbisher in the UK and Europe, he’s in the perfect position to practice what he preaches.

And that’s exactly what he is doing.

His Poole-based company is recycling plastic and transforming it into plastic filament used in 3D printers, to create new products.

It’s become something of a mission – and he wants others to take up the cause because, well, it not only helps the planet but makes sound economic sense.

Last month the company hit the headlines after making its debut appearance at the Bett Show at London’s Excel with a trade stand made entirely of 100 per cent recycled plastic.

The centrepiece was a 4.1 metre high recycled plastic tree, pictured left.

The 3D-printed leaves were made from recycled plastic filament while the whole structure of the stand was from recycled plastic stormboard.

It provoked huge interest and firmly put plastic recycling in the spotlight.

The company also uses solar panels to power its facility while a biomass boiler provides heat.

It claims to be the lowest carbon producing refurbisher of PCs and laptops in the world,

Maz Nabulsi with a 3D printer.

Leon, 47, said: “We’re proof that being environmentally friendly and having a profitable business can go side-by-side.”

CFA, which employs 50 people, has seen its turnover increase from £5m in 2018 to £8m last year.

Sales are expected to hit £10m this year and then jump to a forecast £16m to £20m next year.

Fernando Martelli working on the 3D printer production line.

Of course, as the old maxim goes, turnover is vanity, profit is sanity.

But Leon is quick to point out that CFA is nicely in the black.

Today’s company is a tad different from the business created by Leon and his wife, Joanna, in 2004.

They started – like all the best businesses – from their three bedroom home, trading laptops and PCs.

It was a bit of a squeeze.

“There was so much stock between the kitchen and the lounge that you had to literally squeeze past it in the hall,” said Leon.

Two years later CFA acquired its first warehouse.

It moved to its present home, a former ammunitions factory in World War 2 which made bullets for Spitfires, in 2012.

In 2017 CFA became the largest Microsoft authorised refurbisher in the UK and Europe with the capacity to test and audit 2,000+ units every day.

Today the company is acting as a trailblazer for the cause of recycled plastic.

The test area for refurbished laptops at CFA Trading.

In addition to its core activity of refurbishing laptops, CFA has started producing 3D printers and is trialling new ways of using recycled plastic filament.

It is, Leon admits, a project which has become an absolute passion in the last 18 months.

He said: “I love coming into work and I get a huge sense of pride.

“But other businesses could quite easily do some of the things we’re doing.

“Unless we all take action then our planet will suffer, and we cannot let that happen.”