The award recognises Veolia’s innovative partnership with Reuseful and their project Re:Form, which diverts old uniforms and personal protective equipment (PPE) away from landfill or energy recovery, and creates reusable items through an inspirational back-to-work training programme.
The key innovation is the disruptive thinking, approaching a diverse waste stream in a completely different way, combined with behaviour change at individual and organizational level. The unique partnership has overcome many challenges to create a bespoke, scalable CSR solution with social benefits to match the positive environmental impact – using old workwear to help retrain unemployed people for work has its own poetic as well as economic circularity.
Patricia Watson from Veolia and Nikki DiGiovanni collected the award dressed in designs by Reuseful participant, Bethany Barnes. Barnes designed and created the dresses from non-reusable textiles from Veolia; using the neon fabrics to put used PPE into the recycling spotlight.
The evening wear is just one example of the great things Reuseful do with Veolia’s old uniforms. A selection of materials were on display at the event including tote bags for event attendees, teddy bears, aprons and much more.
Not only is the project an environmental success, with 98% of the material either being reused or recycled, it is also gives back to society with its inspirational back-to-work training scheme. The scheme has enabled hundreds of people to gain new creative skills through sorting, upcycling and re-selling the donated items, as well as building confidence in team-working and personal development. So far the project has helped over 100 people back into employment and a further 150 people are job ready, having gained new work skills.
Tricia Watson, Project Manager at Veolia says: “It is with thanks to all our staff and partners involved that we have been successful in rolling out the Re:Form project, and as a result of all our combined hard work have won Rushlight’s Resource Recycling Award. I look forward to seeing how much more we can achieve with our partnership and will carry on striving towards our goal of bringing corporate workwear sustainability into the circular economy.”
Nikki DiGiovanni, Chief Executive Officer of Reuseful UK, said: “The Re:Form team are delighted to have won Rushlight’s Resource Recycling Award. Re:Form is a ground-breaking initiative undertaken by tenacious, dedicated people who passionately believe that the reuse of resources goes hand in hand with providing opportunities for people to learn new skills in a supportive and friendly environment.”
Further plans for the project include expanding the scheme to handle 50 tonnes of corporate workwear from Veolia, its partners and clients across the country. With an estimated 40 million garments entering the UK market each year, the potential benefits for this scheme and similar activities it inspires are significant. Veolia’s longer term aspirations are to explore product sourcing and design to bring corporate workwear sustainability into the circular economy.