Resource Use

Local authorities in Wales champion reuse

Second hand furniture in a reuse shopA campaign to promote reuse in Wales has been improving communications with residents about the best destination for their used furniture and electronics.

All local authorities in Wales now provide information on reuse options for bulky waste on their websites. These options include sending items to a local reuse shop or charity or simply donating them to family or friends, as well as paying for collection by the council

The Chartered Institute of Wastes Management (CIWM) Cymru has been working on the campaign with Fly-tipping Action Wales, a government-sponsored partnership of more than 50 organisations including councils, national park authorities and Natural Resources Wales, the country’s environment agency.

The organisations have been working to promote reuse as the first choice for bulky waste in Wales. Bulky waste refers to large household items such as furniture and white goods, items that are some of the most commonly- fly-tipped. In 2017/18, six per cent of the total number of recorded fly-tipping incidents were related to white goods like fridges and freezers. Black bags of household waste were at 21 per cent, while 47 per cent of incidents related to ‘other household waste’.

The number of reported incidents of fly-tipping in Wales has dropped recently, decreasing by eight per cent from 2016/17 to 2017/18. However, the costs remain high, with local authorities shelling out just under £1.9 million last year to clear up fly-tipped waste. Educating residents about reuse is therefore crucially important if councils are to continue reducing their number of fly-tipping incidents.

Alongside the benefit of reduced fly-tipping, increasing reuse can have social and financial benefits. All local authorities charge householders for bulky waste collections; this waste will then be taken to the local household waste recycling centre (HWRC). However, CIWM Cymru and Fly-tipping Action Wales have been keen to raise awareness of the network of community reuse organisations across Wales, all of which would be keen to receive reusable household items. These organisations not only save the council money in disposal costs, diverting waste from recycling and landfill, but also provide added social benefit for the local area, be that through job creation or through offering furniture and other items to people in need.

Read more: Record number of items diverted from landfill by Newport reuse shop

After discussions with CIWM Cymru, all 22 Welsh local authorities now list reuse options on their information pages for bulky waste disposal; 15 of these put reuse at the top of the page, highlighting its importance. In total, 49 reuse options are offered by councils, including more than 20 local reuse projects.

Rob Little, Chair of CIWM Cymru, commented: “It’s fabulous to see that local authorities are prioritising reuse and encouraging residents to make use of the tremendous options available which bring social, environmental and economic benefits to our communities.”

Wales has been placing increasing focus on reuse as it seeks new methods to reduce its waste in line with its 2050 target – to have all waste reused or recycled with none sent to landfill or incineration. Moving up the waste hierarchy away from disposal, and keeping items in use for as long as possible, is crucial if the country is to meet its interim target of 70 per cent of waste reused, recycled or composted by 2025.

As part of this drive towards zero waste, the Welsh Government launched its ‘Preparing for reuse’ roadmap in July 2018, a report that sets out how the country can replicate good practice from Wales and abroad to increase the number of items that are reused instead of going to waste. Since then, the government has invested over £5.4 million in reuse and recycling projects across Wales, including more than £1 million for ‘Green Shed’ reuse centres in Conwy and Denbighshire.

The Green Shed model was first launched in Pembrokeshire and brings together reuse, recycling and repair projects in one location to act as a community hub. It is hoped that this model will eventually be replicated across every local authority in Wales.

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