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How vintage books saved from the tip are helping tackle climate change

PG Wodehouse books found at Five Lanes HRC

Household recycling centres are not usually the first place someone would visit if they were looking for something antique or valuable. But a recent find of vintage books are sending curious collectors and bookworms, alike, into a spin. A collection of old books by P.G Wodehouse, which were destined for the dump, have been saved by Suez colleagues at Five Lanes Household Recycling Centre (HRC) near Caldicot and are thought to be worth several hundred pounds. Suez is the council’s contractor that looks after all three of Monmouthshire’s household recycling centres.

The books, which were dropped off at HRC last year, caught the eye of colleagues, who thought they might be valuable. Wanting to know their worth, MCC staff got in touch with a book collector in Tintern. The collector explained how extraordinary a find the collection was and that it was rare to have books with their original wrappings. P.G Wodehouse, was an English author and one of the most widely read humourists of the 20th century. His books included the famous characters, Bertie Wooster and his valet, Jeeves. One of the books alone is thought to be worth over £200.

Chris Williams, Team Leader at Five Lanes HRC said:” These books were a great find. It’s good to know they have been saved, and someone will hopefully treasure them. Every week you have something new that comes in and you never know what you are going to get. As well as the antiques and collectables, we also have loads of everyday useful items that our customers love.”

It’s not the first time something valuable has been retrieved from the recycling centres. A vintage and rare cloth Mickey Mouse toy was saved from the rubbish tip in early 2022 thanks to eagle-eyed colleagues at Suez. The toy was originally made at one of the UK’s oldest teddy bear manufacturers in Pontypool and was eventually donated to the Pontypool Museum to take up its rightful home less than a mile from the old factory where it was made all those years ago.

Councillor Catrin Maby, Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment, said: “Our Reuse Shops have been open for a while now and we continue to be surprised by the unique and rare items that pop up. It’s wonderful to know these special books have been saved from the tip and that someone will be able to enjoy them for many years to come.”

Roger Sealey, Operations Manager for SUEZ recycling and recovery UK, said “This is another fantastic example of the reuse of items that are destined for disposal. Thanks to our engaged staff and their keen curiosity we were able to rescue this extraordinary collection of classic books. We are constantly monitoring the waste containers and approaching site users to salvage any items but we’d urge anyone to chat to one of our colleagues on site if you are unsure of whether something can be reused. Even if you think it isn’t worth anything, there is a chance that it can be enjoyed by someone else and help reduce our impact on the environment”.

It’s hoped that the books, which are being carefully looked after by the Shop’s staff, will now find a new home. They will go on sale at the Five Lanes HRC soon. Profits from the shops go towards tree planting in Monmouthshire.

Monmouthshire has two Reuse Shops. Llanfoist Reuse Shop is open on Tuesdays from 10am-3pm

Five Lanes Reuse Shop is open on Wednesdays from 10am-3pm.