Wales’ support for reuse highlighted at RWM

Dr Andy Rees OBE, head of waste strategy at the Welsh government, has outlined the steps Wales is taking towards achieving a circular economy, including greater support for reuse and repair hubs.

Dr Andy Rees spoke at RWM and Letsrecycle Live 2022 at the NEC, Birmingham, on 14 September

The Welsh government’s goal is to support 80 reuse and repair hubs in town centres, Dr Rees said during a session at RWM and Letsrecycle Live on 14 September at the NEC, Birmingham.

Having supported 30 repair hubs to date, Dr Rees said, providing help for more is “very much our focus for the future”.

The reuse initiative forms part of the Welsh government’s Beyond Recycling strategy, which was published last year. The strategy sets out goals and actions “to make circular economy in Wales a reality”.

Food waste

Some of the actions Wales is pushing for that Dr Rees mentioned during his talk, are eradicating “avoidable” food waste and a government procurement strategy based on prioritising goods and products made from recycled, low carbon or sustainable materials.

Wales aims to reduce avoidable food waste by 50% by 2025, increasing to 60% by 2030. The Welsh government also aims to send no biodegradable waste to landfill by 2025, a goal Dr Rees said the nation was “on target” to reach.

These aims form part of Wales’s overall target of zero residual waste by 2050, as part of its journey towards net zero carbon emissions, Dr Rees said.

Furniture

During his presentation, Dr Rees highlighted that “almost half of our global emissions relate to the products we have purchased” and reiterated the need to reuse and repair.

You need to have a good excuse not to purchase remanufactured furniture

  • Dr Andy Rees, head of waste strategy at the Welsh government

As an example of “putting the ethos into practice”, he cited the National Framework Agreement for Furniture Solutions, which is a procurement solution for the supply of remanufactured furniture. Explaining how the framework worked, Dr Rees said “you need to have a good excuse not to purchase remanufactured furniture”.

One of the beneficiaries of the framework is the ‘Ministry of Furniture’, a business which specialises in remanufacturing. The company has a contract with Caerphilly county borough council, amongst others, awarded in July last year. As part of the deal, the company said it was able to reclaim existing furniture within the council’s stock to remanufacture new pieces.

Legislation

The head of waste strategy also touched upon other aspects of legislation, mentioning Wales’s moratorium on energy from waste facilities with a capacity over 10MW, which was introduced in March 2021 due to “incineration not being part of circular economy”.

In terms of the future, Dr Rees talked about the forthcoming extended producer responsibility for packaging regime, highlighting Wales and Scotland’s plans to include local authorities’ costs for cleaning litter and emptying street bins.

Next year’s legislation will also see non-domestic premises obliged to segregate recycling as commingled streams will no longer be accepted, he said.

Ahead of the consistency regime to be rolled out in 2027, the Welsh government has plans to undertake a trial to figure out the best way to phase plastic film into kerbside collections. Dr Rees added that “this is something we need to explore and work towards with the plastic recycling industry”.

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