Community reuse hubs of the future could be sited at HWRCs

Household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) could be transformed into localised resource recovery parks designed around the waste hierarchy, where reuse is the ultimate goal.

The future vision is outlined in WRAP’s latest HWRC guide, which sets out various possibilities for the evolving network of such sites. As private sector and larger third-sector organisations start to develop reuse hubs, these could be aligned with existing and new HWRCs.

“An HWRC constructed as a reuse hub on the assumption that all items brought to site are reusable or recyclable until identified as not being suitable would be a very different site to a traditional HWRC,” the report states.

“Such a reuse-orientated HWRC could accept household and commercial items as well as items from bulky waste collections.”

Reuse shops could also be located at HWRC sites, along with refurbishment services. This could include adult education activities such as sewing courses using textiles that are donated, woodwork and metalworking courses, and would generate additional income strands.

The guide points out that certain types of waste with reuse potential would not fall into traditional categories such as furniture or electrical items.

For example residents with allotments often salvage flat glass or windows to repair their greenhouses, and a waste exchange for these types of items could prove of value.

“The prospect of such a joined-up, comprehensive and innovative project is an exciting one,” the report states.

However, it cautions that while third sector organisations and charities are well placed to make integral contributions to such a project, success will require strong leadership and management from local authority departments.

Other opportunities involving partnerships with retailers to expand bring bank sites into mini-HWRCs and diversification into sustainability-focused initiatives such as selling biodiesel or offering electric car charging were also highlighted.

Maxine Perella

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