Waste, Recycling and Upcycling

We will be exploring five themes at this year’s Envirolution (21st July); Water, Food, Waste, Energy and Buildings.

Envirolution is not attempting to highlight the problems but to showcase the solutions. We do not want to get muddled with the facts and statistics of any particular issue or even prescribe a formulated plan of action. The idea of our event is to allow individuals, residents and communities to come and be inspired and hopefully to take some of the ideas forward into their own lives and community.

The current situation with waste is not ideal. We are improving our recycling rates but you could argue that the improvements are not good enough or that new techniques undervalue the material being recycled. Our culture of convenience and consumption means a lot of resources are destined for landfill and could more than likely have been designed out of the process without any noticeable effect on quality or service.

Waste is a good example of how complex but exciting the challenge is on an environmental, social and economic level. At the top you have a Greater Manchester approach through the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority that is responsible for making sure we hit our targets and hopefully exceed them.

Next we have the commercial recycle companies, of which in Manchester we are lucky enough to have Emerge Recycling. EMERGE  provides recycling and reuse services to businesses and schools, and promotes sustainable resource management advice through information and education services within the wider community. They have been operating in Manchester for over 15 years and are a fantastic example of how a voluntary organization who have identified a social or environmental problem can develop into a successful enterprise. Another inspiring local example is Recycling Lives in Preston.

Waste comes in all forms and sizes but for each area of waste there is the opportunity for community enterprises to actively participate in a solution. A quick look at Manchester shows several exciting examples; Furniture –Wesley Community Furniture, Timber – Trim and IT waste – Recycle IT.

Another recycling idea is that of a scrap store, at the moment there is a gap between finding a use for materials before they end up in landfill. The scrap store is one bridging solution, have a look at Grumpy to see this in action. They store a wide range of recycled material that is then used by its members for arts and craft activity.

One idea for a scrap store is The Hug Project, who are looking to work with community groups and creative individuals to identify, source and deliver recyclable waste materials.

Finally, at the community level there is a growing number of groups that are turning creative skills into social enterprises. One example is Stitched Up, who are a creative collective that up-cycle old fabric into new pieces of clothing.

At this summers event at Platt Fields Park on 21 July we will have information and examples from all levels of the complex solution. Our hope is that the inspiration that you get from interacting with the projects will allow you to actively participate within your own community after the event.

We would like to localise the waste debate to see what people can do directly where they live. Please Join in the debate by posting comments below or on twitter @Envirolution with the Hashtag #waste #Recycling #Manchester


One thought on “Waste, Recycling and Upcycling”

  1. I help run the Scavenger Reuse &Recycle Network which aims to tackle to issues of linking people’s waste to others who can make good use of it. We’re a national network but tie everything (items, people, wants, etc.) to geographical locations to make it ‘local’. We currently have quite a large number of members in the Manchester area but our membership base is growing organically across the country.

    The network’s website is constantly evolving to accommodate feedback from our members with the ultimate aim of creating instant links between wanted resources and items being given/thrown away.

    We are trying to encourage not only individuals but also organisations (commercial businesses/non-profits/community groups) to join up and link with each other to enable this feed of waste/resources between one another to be established.

    If you are an organisation/individual keen to get involved or just would like a little more information about the Scavenger Network please do get in touch!

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