Community recycling groups across Wales have welcomed a £5.4m ‘shot in the arm’ from Welsh Government.
Environment Minister Hannah Blythyn announced that the multi-million capital investment would be spread across eight community projects, from refurbishing and repairing unwanted items through to a a Zero Waste School pilot project will provide new recycling facilities at 24 schools in Pembrokeshire.
Eifion Williams CEO of Circular Economy Wales (CEW) CIC welcomed the investment and said the schools programme in particular could be a ‘game changer’ in Wales quest to become a Zero Waste nation by 2050.
Eifion said: “Social Enterprises working in our communities across Wales are experts in reaching un-tapped materials for recycling.
“Circular Economy Wales welcomes the total 5.4 million capital funding, the biggest shot in the arm for community recycling for a number of years. This will expand our community infrastructure and assist Local Authorities to accessing the harder to get at materials and products.
“We welcome Welsh Government’s commitment to involving community organisations in the next phase of its Zero Waste Policy.
“These developments build on the pilot support given last year for Pembrokeshire Frame’s ‘Green Shed’ concept where the public and our schools can get involved in re-design and reprocessing new goods.
“Involving the education of the next few generations will be a game changer. This takes Wales into new territory where Wales will be the standard bearer globally for this kind of thinking.
“Circular Economy Wales will be carrying the Green Shed concept and Circular Economy Schools to the rest of Wales. I’m personally proud that Wales is taking the lead like this, Hannah Blythyn is to be congratulated for her vision.”
In Conwy, Crest Co-operative has been granted £1,020,000 to expand its reuse infrastructure in both Conwy and Denbighshire.
Jay Martin, Strategic Business Development Manager for Crest Co-operative said the investment would lead to more jobs and apprenticeships through the expansion of its reuse workshops and stores in Llandudno Junction and Colwyn Bay, plus a new shop to be opened in Rhyl.
“In the last few years, our community reuse stores in Llandudno Junction and Colwyn Bay have experienced significant growth in sales of reuse furniture, clothing, mattresses and household goods with sales increasing month on month,” Jay said.
“Aside of the obvious environmental benefits of our reuse activities; they also make a significant contribution to addressing the poverty agenda by enabling low income individuals and families access to good quality furniture and electrical goods for a fraction of new cost.”
“We anticipate that this capital grant will enable us to create new employment opportunities/ apprenticeships in our expanded and improved workshops and reuse retail stores during 2019.”
Jenny Sims CEO of Frame, which will receive £500,000 to launch a Zero Waste Schools project in Pembrokeshire, said she was ‘excited’ by the prospect of the new venture.
“Wales has done really well to get to number two in Europe since we started changing our ways and we’ll soon be number one if our progress continues as the government have planned.
“Getting to the next 36 per cent of the Zero Waste Target was always going to be the harder part of the recycling journey but FRAME will go fishing for these products and materials to help people in Pembrokeshire to participate easily as we know that’s what they want to do.
“We will be working closely to support the Zero Waste Network initiative that Lyndon Brennan has secured resources for and we’ll work closely with KWT’s ECO Schools personnel to maximise that benefit also.”
Zero Waste Schools proponent and Deputy Head of Llanishen High Schoo Lyndon Brennan described announcement as an ‘important boost for Welsh Schools and the education system’.
“The Schools Zero Waste Initiative will provide Welsh students with the resources and knowledge to create a more sustainable future for them and the nation,” he said.
“Wales has already achieved huge progress towards Zero Waste and harnessing the formidable power of our young people will take us further along this road, and help us to develop the enlightened global citizens that is the essence of our education policy.
“I believe this initiative could make Wales the envy of other nations and I’m proud to be a part of it.”