Veolia Southwark and Reuseful were nominated for this year’s National Recycling Awards Private-Public Sector Partnership Award. The nomination recognised Veolia Southwark’s partnership with Reuseful and their project Re:Form, an initiative that diverts old uniforms and personal protective equipment (PPE) away from landfill to create reusable items.
Both organisations attended the ceremony at the London Hilton to celebrate the nomination dressed in designs by Reuseful participant, Bethany Barnes. Barnes designed and created the dresses, and bow ties from non-reusable textiles donated by Veolia in Southwark; using the neon fabrics to put used PPE into the recycling spotlight.
The evening wear is just one example of the great things Reusful do with Veolia’s old uniforms. In 2016 Veolia’s recycling and refuse collectors donated over 10,000 items including 200 sweaters to Reuseful, who transformed them into many items including PPE teddy bears. The bears were then sold to raise money for charity or went into Boxes of Rainbows, which were donated to children with life limiting illnesses.
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 56 people back into employment and a further 82 people are job ready, having gained new work skills.
Tricia Watson, Project Manager at Veolia says: “It is with thanks to all our 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 been shortlisted for MRWs 2017 Private-Public Sector Partnership 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.”
Re:Form partners with the Cambridgeshire Community Reuse and Recycling Network – CCORRN and is funded by Veolia and Greater Cambridge and Greater Peterborough LEP. Veolia’s partnership followed after a successful trial which took place at the Southwark’s Integrated Waste Management Facility. Thanks to this trial, 10,000 items of used uniform were diverted from landfill and energy recovery.
Nikki DiGiovanni, Chief Executive Officer of Reuseful UK, said: “The Re:Form team are delighted to be shortlisted by the MRW for these awards. 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. Veolia’s longer term aspirations are to explore product sourcing and design to bring corporate workwear sustainability into the circular economy.