Wales invests £5.4m in new reuse and recycling projects

Wales invests £5.4m in new reuse and recycling projects
Wales could make nearly £1.5 million in sales from items prepared for reuse.
Wales is investing £5.4 million across eight new projects to improve levels of reuse and recycling, Environment Minister Hannah Blythyn has announced.

To coincide with the announcement, Blythyn is today (22 November) visiting The Shed Recycling Shop in Llantrisant, Rhondda Cynon Taf. The Shed, operated by social enterprise Waste Savers, is an example of a successful reuse organisation that the Welsh Government is looking to replicate across the country; in five months in 2018, the shop saved 70.96 tonnes of items from going to waste, generating around £50,000 in revenue through resale.

A portion of the new government funding will help Rhondda Cynon Taf set up a second reuse facility in Treherbert, following in the footsteps of The Shed, which employs 2-3 staff and a team of volunteers.

Back in July, a Welsh Government report turned the spotlight on reuse, underlining how sharing best practice and replicating successful local initiatives would be key to reducing waste, as well as improving local initiatives

The report, titled ‘Preparing for re-use: A roadmap for a paradigm shift’, envisions a scenario in which reuse of all products becomes a mainstream part of the economy. By following the report’s recommendations, it is suggested that up to 1,170,000 tonnes of reusable items (including furniture, textiles, paint, wood and electronics) could be saved from disposal, and Wales could make nearly £1.5 million in sales from items prepared for reuse.

This new £5.4 million of funding indicates the Welsh Government’s continued commitment to reuse and repair. The eight projects receiving capital funding are:

  1. £500,000 to Pembrokeshire County Council to support a Zero Waste Schools initiative, teaching primary and secondary school children in 24 schools about the importance of recycling;
  2. £1,020,000 to Conwy and Denbighshire County Councils to support the creation of a new ‘Green Shed’, a regional reuse, repair and recycling hub;
  3. £1,175,000 to Newport City Council to support initiatives by Newport Wastesavers, as well as new waste baling machinery;
  4. £900,000 to Denbighshire County Council to help it improve its waste collection in line with the Collections Blueprint, a preferred system for the recycling of household waste. Councils adopting the blueprint have notably reported improvements in their recycling rates;
  5. £541,000 to Blaenau Gwent CBC to improve recycling and composting, including through new recycling vehicles and bins;
  6. £120,000 to Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC for the development of a second reuse centre;
  7. £646,375 to Monmouthshire County Council, to commence works at Five Lanes Transfer Station to bulk separately collected materials; and
  8. £490,000 to Merthyr Tydfil CBC to improve collections and reuse.

All projects will be completed during 2018/19.

Wales invests £5.4m in new reuse and recycling projects
Employees at FRAME, a Pembrokeshire reuse project, collect furniture for reuse

Despite the most recent figures showing a slight dip in the country’s recycling rate for the first time, dropping from 63.8 per cent in 2016/17 to 62.7 per cent in 2017/18, Wales remains far ahead of the other UK nations, retaining its spot as the second best recycler in Europe and third best in the world after Germany and Taiwan.

Much of this success can be put down to the fact that the Welsh Government is continually pumping money into its recycling services, with £800 million invested since 2001/02, according to Blythyn. Just last month, a £50-million commitment was announced to continue pushing the nation’s recycling rates upwards. £15.5 million of that will go to the Vale of Glamorgan, Pembrokeshire and Denbighshire, all of which reported drops in their recycling rates this year, while £500,000 has been set aside for a new behaviour change campaign to educate householders about recycling.                                                                                                                    

The added funding announced today for reuse and recycling projects brings the total funding for waste services this year alone above £80 million. Blythyn explained: “One of the best ways to reduce waste is to repair and refurbish items so they can be reused and some of these projects will improve facilities to enable this. We’re also investing in a pilot schools project to reduce waste and instil good habits from a young age.

“Where materials can’t be reused, the next best method is to recycle, so we’re also investing in the machinery to better manage recyclable items. This range of new projects will not only help reduce waste in the coming years, it should lead to a cultural change in the longer term, helping us achieve our ambition to become a ‘Zero Waste Nation’ by 2050.”

Funding welcomed by community recycling groups

Crest Co-operative, which will be receiving funding to expand its network of community reuse workshops and stores in Conwy and Denbighshire, has welcomed the news, with Jay Martin, Strategic Business Development Manager, keen to stress the important social benefits of reuse. Martin commented: "Aside [from] the obvious environmental benefits of our reuse activities, they also make a significant contribution to addressing the poverty agenda by enabling low income individuals and families access to good quality furniture and electrical goods for a fraction of new cost.

“We anticipate that this capital grant will enable us to create new employment opportunities [and] apprenticeships in our expanded and improved workshops and reuse retail stores during 2019.”

Circular Economy Wales CIC is working to develop blueprints for the replication of circular initiatives with social benefits. The organisation is integral to the roll-out of the 'Green Shed' initiative across Wales, one of which one was launched in Pembrokeshire earlier this year. Each Green Shed acts as an independent local hub for repair, reuse and recycling, as well as providing training and employment opportunities. Crest will be delivering the new Green Shed in Conwy.

Eifion Williams, CEO of Circular Economy Wales, commented: “We welcome the Welsh Government’s commitment to involving community organisations in the next phase of its Zero Waste Policy. These developments build on the pilot support given last year for Pembrokeshire Frame’s 'Green Shed' concept where the public and our schools can get involved in re-design and reprocessing new goods.

“Involving the education of the next few generations will be a game changer. This takes Wales into new territory where Wales will be the standard bearer globally for this kind of thinking.

“Circular Economy Wales will be carrying the Green Shed concept and Circular Economy Schools to the rest of Wales. I’m personally proud that Wales is taking the lead like this; Hannah Blythyn is to be congratulated for her vision.”

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