Pilot scheme aims to support people in need and rescue bulky waste from landfill

Hampshire County Council, in partnership with its waste contractor Veolia, has given the go ahead to develop a trial project that aims to both provide people in need with access to low-cost furniture and reduce the amount of bulky waste requiring disposal through landfill

Sep 24 2021

The scheme will divert to a ‘Reuse Hub’ suitable items for reuse, initially from selected Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) and, at a later date, from kerbside bulky waste collections or direct delivery from the public and other sources such as charities. The diverted items would then be available to support individuals and families on low incomes or in crisis.

In agreeing to the pilot, Councillor Jan Warwick, the County Council’s Executive Member for Climate Change and Sustainability, commented: “This makes such good sense. In avoiding having to dispose of items in landfill, valuable practical assistance can be provided to people who are on low-incomes and struggling to make ends meet or those who are being re-housed after being homeless or escaping domestic violence for example. Having access to low cost, good quality furniture can be a lifeline in helping them to furnish their home without getting into debt or having to sacrifice other essentials such as food or fuel for heating. I will be watching the progress of this trial with great interest.”

Mark Gray, General Manager at Veolia said: "We are delighted to play our part in this exciting project, which will benefit both the environment and the community. Reusing bulky waste and diverting it away from landfill helps local people while reducing carbon impact and saving energy. We are committed to supporting this project and helping to make it a success for Hampshire."

In 2019/20 the Council disposed of approximately 31,000 tonnes of waste to landfill, largely made up of unwanted furniture and other large household items, resulting in a cost of over £2.8million.

 Ahead of developing the proposal for a trial, the County Council’s Waste Team consulted with colleagues in Adults’ Services and local reuse furniture charities who provide welfare assistance. The Reuse Hub for the initial trial will be located in a building in East Portway, Andover, where, currently, 40% of the building’s capacity is occupied by a furniture reuse charity that undertakes repairs and upcycling -  their activities will complement the work of the pilot scheme.

Additionally, a minimum of three HWRCs have been identified to take part in the trial and the County Council is working with its contractor, Veolia, to put in place the necessary operational arrangements at the sites. 

Local furniture reuse charities, which deliver local welfare assistance, will be able to access the Hub and pick-up items of furniture for free to support those in need. However, longer-term, it is anticipated that a proportion of suitable items received into the Hub would be sold, predominantly online. This would help to manage the turnover of items, as well as generate an income to sustain the service.

In the report considered by Councillor Warwick, it is made clear that it is not the intention of the project to replace the role or services provided by furniture reuse charities. The charities will remain the key contacts for referrals to access low-cost furniture for those in need.

If the trial proves successful and can be rolled out across the county, the initiative will contribute significantly to increasing the level of reuse and repair in Hampshire and towards zero landfill. This in turn supports the County Council’s target for the county to be carbon neutral by 2050.