Britain’s biggest reuse and repair centre has just celebrated its first birthday. In its first year of operations, Manchester’s Renew Hub has renovated and sold on 50,000 items – including 953 bikes, almost two thousand electrical items and six thousand items of furniture. In total, this has diverted over 500 tonnes from landfill, playing an important role in creating a local circular economy.
Items for potential reuse are identified at the council’s waste sites and re-directed to the Renew Hub, where people can also donate things directly. They are then sorted in a large warehouse. Several refurbishment workshops operate on site out of reclaimed containers. They fix up things for a second life, and sell them on through an online shop or one of three Renew shops. Here’s a video introduction to the hub:
There are multiple benefits to a scheme like this. First of all, it keeps useful things out of the waste stream, reducing waste. It makes it easy to dispose of unwanted things that others could use, and they get the benefit of good value secondhand furniture, bikes, etc.
The hub has created 20 jobs in repair, and the onsite workshops offer training and apprenticeship opportunities – including a local charity that prevents re-offending through support and employment. The facility will also play an ongoing role in raising awareness of reuse in the city. The next phase of the project is to create community and education spaces within the warehouse, so that it can host schools visits and other events.
The Reuse Hub runs as a not-for-profit enterprise, supporting local charities through profits raised or directly. Furniture and household goods from the hub are used by housing and homelessness charities.
Could we run a similar scheme in Luton? Or in your town? Absolutely.
It might not be on the same scale as a hub serving Greater Manchester, but the model is replicable. There’s also room for flexibility. Manchester’s hub has been contracted to a waste firm called Suez, with around £320,000 a year generated for the local community. Councils could choose to run the facility themselves, or it could be run with local businesses. The Retuna mall in Sweden, which is a similar project, supports a variety of small upcycling companies.
Up and down the country, perfectly reuseable items are thrown away every day at council waste sites. There are multiple benefits to projects that intervene in the waste stream and capture things for reuse.