Uniforms used by workers whilst keeping the streets clean will continue to support the community even after they’re worn out thanks to a joint innovation by resource management company, Veolia and national charity, Reuseful UK. The project, Re:Form, will recycle 10 tonnes of used Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from Veolia’s London contracts in its first year, with great potential to take in more corporate clothing nationally as the scheme evolves.
Re:Form partners with the Cambridgeshire Community Reuse and Recycling Network and is funded by Greater Cambridge and Greater Peterborough LEP and Veolia. Following a successful trial at Southwark’s Integrated Waste Management Facility, where 250 people are provided with uniform to carry out their duties, the project has been expanded to divert 10,000 items from going to landfill or energy recovery from 3,000 Veolia wearers across London. An inspirational back-to-work training scheme has been created enabling a huge range of items to be collected, cleaned, sorted, carefully debranded and then sold at low cost to individuals and community groups. Uniform which is still fit for purpose is repackaged and sold, whilst other items are remanufactured into new items and craft kits.
It all happens in a creative workshop in the Cambridgeshire town of March, where participants learn new skills and use their ingenuity to achieve so much more than anyone predicted. Some of the 200 donated sweaters will be used to make teddy bears (pictured) which will be sold or go into ‘Rainbow Boxes’ - a subsidiary project, bringing joy and comfort to terminally ill children. Apron kits have been made from the trousers and even the t-shirts get made into yarn!
Over 100 people seeking employment have been involved with the project since it started at the beginning of 2016, helping to sort, upcycle and resell the donated items. The number of people taking part has doubled each quarter owing to its popularity and success. In this year alone, nearly 40 people will have found employment and a further 50 will be job ready having gained new work skills. The project is on target to grow these already impressive results into 100 people into work and 100 to be job ready.
Patricia Watson, who manages the project at Veolia said: “We see waste as a resource and are continually looking for new ways to reuse and recycle items to support a circular economy. Our old uniform is such a mixture of materials, in various states of cleanliness and disrepair, the traditional recycling markets simply couldn’t deal with it. We’re delighted to be part of such an innovative solution which not only diverts waste from landfill and energy recovery, but more importantly, helps support the local community and people into work. I look forward to helping the scheme grow to expand these incredible social and environmental benefits”
Nikki DiGiovanni, Chief Executive Officer at Reuseful UK also commented: “Sarah Hall is Reuseful UK’s Re:Form Project Manager, it is her enthusiasm that inspires our small team of staff and volunteers to work wonders with waste. It is amazing, where others see waste, scrapstores see opportunities to be creative and resourceful. Not only do we repurpose these uniforms we are giving local people a sense of purpose by helping them find the confidence and gain the skills needed to gain employment.”
You can support this project by purchasing the de-branded uniform, remanufactured teddy bears, t-shirt yarn and craft kits directly through Reuseful UK by emailing [email protected] or online at their shop on eBay www.ebay.co.uk/usr/reusefuluk. Items can also be viewed on Facebook @reformhub.