Re-use scheme is the best thing to happen to social enterprise in decades
New third sector furniture recycling consortium launched
A charity and social enterprise tie-up will help the planet, aid the needy and save councils millions.
That’s the bold claim being made for a new scheme to recycle furniture, which has been described as “the best thing to happen to social enterprises in decades”.
It has been developed by Community Resources Network Scotland (CRNS) – a 120-member network of social enterprises and charities supporting third-sector re-use, repair and recycling projects across Scotland.
All its members share a determination to reduce waste and to create social, environmental and economic benefits at a community level.
CRNS supports 24 local authority areas in providing key household items including beds, sofas, cookers, fridges and washing machines.
Chief executive David Wood said: “Previously, local authorities purchased new furniture and never bought re-used items.
“The reason this is so different is it takes the re-use sector to another level and puts it on the framework along with new furniture providers.
“If a local authority is looking to provide furniture for a client family in need who don’t have anything ... if they purchase re-use furniture, then it will be cheaper for the council.
“It will mean that the products are being kept in circulation and not going to landfill. It will also mean the authorities should be able to support more people in need, because their budgets can be extended.”
Wood said the re-used furniture could be of better quality than new, and the whole system was beneficial for council budgets and communities.
“They pick up sofas, tables, chairs, beds from households when people are either moving house, or buying new items, or if there’s been a death and the furniture is no longer required. If it’s of an acceptable standard, the re-use organisation then sells that on in their shops.
“These social enterprises support their local community, like volunteering, or offering employment for people with disabilities or dependencies, or difficulties getting on to the employment ladder.
“The quality of the product is often of a higher standard than the new, because the new is basic – a thin mattress or a small, thin sofa – whereas re-use furniture could be a sofa that cost £800 new, but it’s now been bought for £80 or £100 because it has been used.”
Wood said he hoped that re-using furniture would become as popular as recycling in general.
“Everyone knows what recycling is now, whereas 10 or 15 years ago people weren’t really doing recycling.
“We’re funded through Zero Waste Scotland and we’re trying to get re-use into people’s minds so that in communities where there’s not a lot of money, or families where there aren’t huge budgets, they realise that they can actually buy re-used – and that often it can be extremely good.”