Warwickshire Community Recycling – Community Champion of the Year 2012, Chartered Institution of Waste Management (CIWM)

Name

Warwickshire Community Recycling

Organisation

Warwickshire Community Recycling is a social enterprise and voluntary sector organisation that operates two household waste recycling centres and five recycling centre ‘re-use shops’ within the county.

Partners

Warwickshire County Council, Warwickshire Community and Voluntary Action (W-CAVA), and Heart of England Community Foundation

Awards

  • Community Champion of the Year – Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) Awards for Environmental Excellence 2012
  • Best Partnership Award – Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) Celebration Awards 2012
  • Showcased at the 2012 National Civic Amenity Sites Conference and cited as best practice in recently-published guidance by WRAP
  • Winner of the National Government Opportunities (GO) Excellence in Public Procurement Awards 2013/14 in the ‘Best Service Award’ category
  • Finalist in the National Recycling Awards 2013 in the categories of: ‘Best Partnership Project for Recycling’ and ‘Efficiency Initiative of the Year’

 

Summary

Warwickshire Community and Voluntary Action (W-CAVA) and the Heart of England Community Foundation created ‘Warwickshire Community Recycling’ (WCR) as a joint charitable enterprise. In a subsequent joint venture with Warwickshire County Council, Warwickshire Community Recycling (WCR) took over the management of Stockton and Wellesbourne recycling centres from the county council on April 1 2012.

WCR provides staff to operate on-site shops, assist members of the public, and to ensure that recycling is sorted effectively. In return the organisation receives the recycling income to cover the costs of operating the sites. Surpluses are donated to local charities through the Heart of England Community Foundation, which has already benefitted many grassroots organisations.

The aims

  • Minimise the amount of material sent to landfill and maximise the amount of material re-used or recycled
  • Achieve a 67% recycling rate across all Household Waste Recycling Centres for 2012/13
  • Increase re-use to 4,000 tonnes from 3,200
  • Generate £906,000 of County Council savings in-line with budget restrictions, in order to ensure the continued viability of Warwickshire’s nine-strong Household Waste Recycling Centre network 

 

The challenges

In line with the Government’s agenda for the Big Society, local authorities are analysing how they manage local services. It is important for them to find out where they can make improvements, and enhance the end product delivered to their communities, whilst remaining budget sensitive and efficient.

This is no easy task, but the challenge has prompted Warwickshire County Council (WCC) to look again at its waste management facilities and find ingenious ways to make waste work for the community and the council as a whole.

The solutions

A project board was set up to monitor the scheme and ensure it was completed on time, within budget, and with allocated savings. Research included developing a working knowledge of Warwickshire’s Household Waste Recycling Centre ‘re-use shop’ network, public consultation about service provision, and soft market testing of potential private sector provision.

Alongside this, monitoring was carried out on the performance of two in-house managed Household Waste Recycling Centres. A wealth of detail was collated on operating costs and the value of material sales e.g. glass, paper and scrap metal.

The results

The community recycling sites are achieving a recycling rate of 75%, which is an increase of 18% from the rates under the former contractor of the site.

Alongside this more than 10 tonnes of material is being diverted from landfill by the enterprise’s re-use shops each month. The turnover for these shops for 2013/2014 should exceed £200,000, on top of the £50,000 of income which comes from recyclate.

The organisation has already recruited and trained 22 volunteers, who provide 4,000 hours of their time per year. The initiative is also providing more than 6,000 hours of work experience and accredited training to volunteers, paid staff (5 FTE) and 3 apprentices.

Learning points

  • Whilst other authorities have followed in Warwickshire’s wake by outsourcing recycling centres to the third sector, this particular partnership has a highly-equitable business model as it spreads the benefit to hundreds of grassroots community groups through a grant-making community foundation.
  • The County Council’s capital injection of £52,000 to supply and install pre-fabricated re-use shops and an interest-free, 18-month pump-prime loan of £40,000 helped the enterprise to achieve break-even within its first six months
  • The Warwickshire Community Recycling Partnership is a shining example of embracing the Big Society and balancing the books – as advocated in the Localism and Social Value Acts, and DCLG Best Value Guidance.
  • Partnering with a reputable third sector partner with sufficient capacity was of prime importance

 

SWM comment

This case study is a positive example of a community successfully tackling local issues themselves, and embracing the highly contended Big Society ideal. Efficient ‘re-use shops’ are a great example of good practice, since re-use is the second most favoured option in the waste hierarchy.

Contact

For more information on this project, email David Whitehouse.