Innovative furniture reuse enterprise in Scotland making waves in circular economy
A new furniture reuse enterprise has drawn praise from Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, for bringing the benefits of reuse and repair to housing associations and social landlords in Glasgow.
Total Homes Co-operative launched a service called Void Clearance last month, which collects household furniture which would otherwise go to landfill, before recovering and repairing the items. The furniture can then be sold on once more for an affordable price to the public, contributing to the circular economy with minimal waste.
Praised by the First Minister at the recent Circular Economy Hotspot event in Glasgow for the benefits it brings to housing associations and social landlords by saving costs and reducing waste, the co-operative is also supported by the environmental consultancy Resource Futures. This consultancy helps small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) such as Total Homes grow financially stable circular business models.
Resource Futures’ support was facilitated through two of Zero Waste Scotland’s (ZWS) schemes: the Circular Economy Business Support Service, which produces tailored support programmes for SMEs, and the Circular Economy Investment Fund, which offers financial backing that will help deliver circular economy growth.
Pauline Smith from ReConnect Glasgow, a founder of Total Homes, said: “We could see that house clearances often ended up producing a substantial amount of waste, and that there was a big opportunity for someone to help close the loop. Total Homes is all about reusing and repairing as many items as possible, enabling landlords to reduce their environmental impact and allowing prospective tenants to obtain good quality items at lower cost.
“Our cooperative model allows new members to join as we grow, and for any profits to be reinvested into the scheme for the benefit of the communities we work within.”
The Circular Economy in Scotland is worth approximately £1 billion, as ZWS revealed in a report released in October. Scotland also committed to a deposit return scheme in September 2017, whereby once drink containers are returned to the place of purchase, the consumer can receive a small deposit back. Scotland already has a well-established foundation for the reuse industry, but with collaborations such as Resource Futures and Total Homes Co-op, there is great hope that the country’s circular economy will continue to grow.
As Allan Sandilands, Principal Consultant from Resource Futures, commented: “This is a great example of how organisations in Scotland are taking reuse to new levels and making breakthroughs towards a circular economy. At the moment, Total Homes is working within Glasgow but we see the potential for this model to be scaled up and delivered across Scotland.”
Resource Futures is also involved with a range of other reuse projects outside of Total Homes. With public sector organisations such as NHS Highland and NHS Shetland, it hopes to increase reuse by developing a Waste Prevention and Reuse Action Plan. This would enable the company to understand waste prevention, and develop a clear strategy towards implementing more reuse.
Sandilands said: “It’s great to see that more organisations across the public and private sector are recognising the financial, environmental and social benefits of circular business models and resource efficiency, and we’re delighted to continue playing a role in supporting this important shift to more sustainable resource management for Scotland and beyond.”
Outside of Scotland, Resource Futures is also working in Wales, as seen in its recent report for WRAP Cymru and the Welsh Government, ‘Preparing for reuse: a roadmap for a paradigm shift in Wales’. The report revealed that preparing waste for reuse would also create jobs and save money whilst reducing waste.