The Circulatory

Recycling and reuse

Recycling and reuse has played an active and successful role in the mosaic murals, and also in encouraging a Circular Economy through performance, education, and art.

Reuse: “The reuse of waste is the most desirable option. It is any operation where products or materials that are not waste are used again for the same purpose for which they were intended. Reusing waste often requires collection but relatively little or no processing. It involves checking, cleaning, repairing, and/or refurbishing, entire items or spare parts.”

There is a gaping hole in the supply chain for more opportunities for reuse around the commercial sector that SWC could fill. This has the potential for quite a profitable operation. 

Having spent many years researching the extent of the waste resource, the reuse potential of much of Kingston’s commercial and domestic wastage is huge and, not only could we exploit this opportunity, but this has the potential to become a pilot scheme for every Town and City in the UK.

 The Proposal

In October 2015, Save the World Club was restructured in order to meet its aim to strengthen the local circular economy by expanding our reuse, repair and redistribution services to draw more out of the waste stream back into use.  Directors and trustees include Des Kay, and managers from the Kingston Environment Centre, the eCoop and Kingston Furniture Project.

Low income and marginalised people will be supported at point of sale being able to purchase goods at a fraction of their value and information displayed about waste would help educate shoppers on the ecological advantage of reuse. This would support customers in buying wisely so their purchases don’t end up wasted stuck in a drawer.

“UK consumers have around £30 billion worth of clothes which they haven’t worn for a year hanging in their wardrobes” reveals a new report by WRAP, the UK’s lead body on resource efficiency.

In looking for suitable premises for such an operation, we have identified a space below the Council flats, at Dale Court in York Road, originally destined for parking that has remained vacant for many years. This would be ideally suited for a low impact workshop/sorting and creative space where the bicycle would be the main form of distribution and little noise or pollution would be generated.

This would require no funding from the Council, apart from bridging the utilities so power, water and drainage could be installed. The fit out would evolve using a gradual process of acquiring surplus building materials as they appear and eventually we could provide a local repair service for resident’s discarded goods and even, perhaps, become a social hub to expand the sense of community within the flats, working with the residents through a newsletter and social networking.

A similar project has opened in Lambeth where charity “Remakery” has taken over derelict garages below a block of flats as workshops for artists, upcycling discarded waste to create practical and artistic objects. 

We presently have a pilot operation in a short life property in an old factory in Raynes Park and are seeking a more long term solution to provide this much needed amenity for promoting a carbon reducing circular economy. We will shortly be required to find new premises.

SWC is developing, with “Best Before” partners, a system to collect commercial reusable waste and divert it to areas of hardship around Poland via Caritas http://www.caritas.org/where-we-are/europe/poland/ 

We have some Polish volunteers to sort the goods and we will be diverting several tons of waste back to reuse, with a guarantee of putting stuff back into the “Circular Economy” This will also generate a modest income.

Other potential related projects include:

  • Preparing domestic waste in wealthy communal bin cupboards by separating the recycling and useful goods and chattels. A job they clearly can’t be bothered with.
  • Collecting discarded shop stock and redistributing it
  • Collecting unsold charity shop waste
  • Collecting food waste from supermarkets and redistributing it to homeless projects and our own volunteers
  • Collecting discarded goods from stalls after car boot sales.
  • Conscious Shopping Week. Taking place around first week of December, highlighting quality, built to last goods and exposing the hidden environmental costs of purchasing (See “Story of Stuff”)
  • Upcycle Show. Exhibition focusing on refurbished and creatively reused items.
  • RE-engaging with the mosaic operation that runs as an autonomous, self financing offshoot.

Most of the above projects are already in motion. The operation is self financing and it ticks many boxes including community engagement.

There is the possible support of many Partners available, from the Kingston Environment Centre and local community reuse organisations (such as the eCoop and Kingston Furniture Recycling)  to the waste collection contractors as well as the London Re-use Network of whom STWC is already affiliated.

It is hoped this would prove an example of best practice in social enterprise, mixed use residences, circular economy, upcycling and reuse.