Case Study: From Waste to Social Value

Alliance Homes Group provide housing and housing-related support to around 15,000 people a year. In addition to housing some of the most vulnerable groups of people in North Somerset they are a major provider of care and support services. The company has recently embarked on a major refurbishment programme which has allowed it to consolidate office space and provide a more agile and customer-friendly workplace.  

As a community-based social housing association, Alliance Homes reinvests profits back into its services and is committed to maximising social value.T

The Solution:

Collecteco work with businesses across the UK to donate furniture, equipment and materials to charities, schools, NHS trusts, voluntary groups and other not for profit organisations.

Alliance Homes were keen to maximise social value and see surplus reusable kit donated into the community. In addition to its Martingale Way office, there was also a considerable quantity of kit stored in their warehouse which was surplus to requirements.

Kit was donated to a range of local good causes, including a complete office refurbishment for TreeAid and 6 other charities, 1 NHS trust, 2 schools, 2 social enterprises and 1 government service

The Results:

  • ENVIRONMENTAL: 546 items/21,302kg of kit donated to good causes
  • ENVIRONMENTAL: CO2 Transport – majority of kit donated locally and directly from site
  • SOCIAL: Support of 13 local good causes allowing them to focus funds on their core work
  • SOCIAL: Connections with local projects for ongoing links, e.g. corporate volunteering
  • ECONOMIC: £24,714 of in-kind funding to the community
  • ECONOMIC: Reduced costs to client versus breaking furniture up for recycling/landfill

Case Study: Leading Lights

Leading Lights is charity based in Bristol that radically changes outcomes for children and young people with social, emotional and mental heath difficulties.

They got in touch with us to help them open their pop-up office on a low budget. We were able to supply them with a donation of desks and chairs, saving them money and allowing them to focus their efforts on helping young people in the community.

“We’re delighted by the desks and chairs so generously donated by Collecteco. Not only does this mean that this fabulous furniture gets a new lease of life instead of a landfill, we’ve been able to open our pop-up office on a low budget and can now focus on helping more young people!”

 – Kathryn Stracheky – Director @ Leading Lights


You can find out more about the amazing work Leading Lights do here.

Case Study: Free To Be Kids – A Winter Collection

The snow didn’t stop this great cause from getting their donations of furniture and equipment! We’re happy to see the kit given a new life. All this meant that Free To Be Kids could focus their funds on their core activities, rather than having to worry about the costs of furnishing their new office space.

Case Study: Jones Lang LaSalle & Grant Thornton – Clearance of Hartwell House

The Challenge: In December 2017, Jones Lang LaSalle contacted Collecteco in relation to the relocation of their client Grant Thornton from Hartwell House to Glass Wharf in Bristol. The relocation of over 200 staff was to happen over a weekend, which, combined with a more space efficient office configuration in the new building, meant that Grant Thornton needed to rehome the majority of the furniture and equipment from its old office.

Case Study: Carpet Tiles

The Challenge:

Harmsen Tilney Shane is a commercial interior design and workplace consultancy. The company recently started a project to refit an office in Gloucester that saw the need to find a home for approximately 3600 reusable carpet tiles.

Bath-based charity, Mercy in Action, relies on a network of 14 shops to raise funds for its work to rescue vulnerable children in the Philippines. There are more shops in the pipeline and continual need to renew fixtures and fittings in their existing shops.

The Salvation Army is opening a furniture shop in Bristol and needs to refit a unit quickly and at minimal cost.

The Solution:

Collecteco clears commercial premises and commits to reuse at least 75% of all it clears.

Reusable items and materials are donated to The Chrysalis,a not-for-profit, social enterprise, where they are made available to a range of good causes.

Harmsen Tilney Shane’s commitment to sustainability spans the whole company involving everyone, including the operatives removing the carpet tiles, which meant this was done with care and they were kept clean and dry to maximise what could be reused.T he tiles were stacked neatly on pallets that we borrowed from The Chrysalis and neat stacking reduced the space needed on the collection vehicle.

Rather than send a dedicated vehicle to Gloucester to collect the pallets of tiles from the site, Collecteco used a transport contractor that was already travelling to Gloucester to make use of part of the load on the return journey. This reduced the mileage for the project and the associated carbon. The vehicle had a tail-lift to load the pallets, which also meant that we didn’t have to arrange for a forklift truck to attend site.

The stock at The Chrysalis is constantly changing and if they don’t have something in stock they log this requirement so that they can quickly fulfil the need when the stock becomes available. The Chrysalis has dealt with Mercy in Action for many years and knows that they regularly require fixtures and fittings for their shops. When The Chrysalisknew carpet tiles were due to arrive, theywere able to contact Mercy in Action toget them rehomed.

The Chrysalis heard that The Salvation Army was opening a used furniture shop in Bristol, so they called them to offer them stock for the shop, but also fixtures and fittings to get the shop refitted. When they called The Salvation Army were days away from getting the keys, but the beauty of The Chrysalis is that they can allocate stock to a good cause and store this until such time that is needed, as many of their charity partners struggle with lack of space and transport issues.

The Results:

Landfill Diverted: 3600kg
+ C02 Reduction: Transport reduced by back haul on an existing journey.
+ Reuse vs. buying new items mades from virgin resources.
+ Jobs/Training Created: Collection/Warehousing/Cleaning/Delivery
+ Support of local good causes.

Case Study: Alternative Packaging Materials

The Challenge:

Airbus is a leading aircraft manufacturer and imports a number of specialist and highly sensitive items and materials. In addition to easily recycled packaging, this also gives rise to a number of plastic foams from a variety of polymers and in various quantities. These foams vary from very small offcuts to over three metres in length. Serco is a facilities management company that manage services at Airbus in Filton and are committed to achieving zero waste to landfill. They approached Collecteco to find alternatives to landfilling this foam.

The Solution:

Collecteco cleared about 100 cubic yards of this waste stream as an alternative to sending it to landfill –enough to cover at least one football pitch! Recycling was not an option because there were too many different polymers and the machinery required for a “one-off” didn’t justify the investment. Energy from waste was an option to avoid landfill, but only if all else failed and even then we would need to pre-shred some material. Reuse opportunities quickly arose for this waste stream in the form of alternatives to virgin packaging materials for The Chrysalis and Shakspeare Glass and for The Children’s Scrapstore who used the large sections for their PlayPods.

The Chrysalis is a not-for-profit social enterprise that exists to promote and facilitate reuse. It reuses thousands of tonnes of reusable items every year and these sometimes need to be sent by courier across the UK or to further afield with recent items travelling to Ghana and the USA. When items are sent by courier they need to be well packaged to avoid damage. The Chrysalis sources reused packaging and the foam from Airbus came at a time when its current stocks were running low.

Shakspeare Glass is a Taunton-based glass blower that makes beautiful glass items ranging from egg cups to commissioned sculptures. The company has stockists all over the UK and as far as the Isle of Arran, so items have got to be sent out well packaged. The foam from Airbus provided a fantastic alternative to new packaging usually made from virgin materials. It also gave the added benefit of being able to be cut to shape when the packaging had to be a very tight fit to prevent damage. On its local routes that it services from its own vehicles, there is also the opportunity for Shakspeare to “take back” packaging for reuse for future deliveries.

The Children’s Scrapstore’s motto is “making wastethings playthings” and it does this by passing on clean, reusable items to schools, nurseries and other like organisations. It had already collected some foam directly from Airbus, but with space at a premium, it could not take more at the time. The larger sections of foam were of most interest to the charity for use in their Play Pods –these are sheds filled with large items that allow children to explore a range of skills through play. The Chrysalis is a 20,000 square foot, racked-out facility, which means that it can accommodate large quantities of materials when needed and “store” these until homes (demand) can be found. This was especially of use in this case because it allowed the Scrapstore to redistribute the foam over time without its warehouse filling-up with foam and therefore potentially damaging other areas of its operations.

The Results:

+ C02 Reduction
Jobs/Training: Collection/Warehousing/Delivery/Income for Scrapstore
+ Landfill Diverted: 750kg

Case Study: Relocating to New Premises

The Challenge:

Hoare Lea is a leading international firm of electrical, mechanical and public health consulting engineers. The company relocated to refurbished premises in Aztec West, near Bristol, at the end of 2016 and, in line with its environmental and CSR policy, wanted to ensure that reusable furniture and equipment were donated to good causes with a zero waste to landfill guarantee for any non-reusable items.

The Solution:

Collecteco visited site well before Hoare Lea were due to relocate so that reusable kit could be marketed and allocated to good causes before the relocation took place. The office contained a large quantity of modular desking and dividers which are typically difficult to rehome due to their size. This made it even more important to get the kit marketed quickly through Collecteco’s national database of good causes. An inventory was produced and circulated listing reusables from furniture right down to mugs and staplers. In all, 852 large items of furniture and equipment were donated to 20 not for profit organisations, equating to nearly 30,000kg reused. These good causes were many based in Bristol and South Gloucestershire, but items went to South Wales, London and as far afield as Norfolk. The kit that was not fit for reuse was dismantled and sent for recycling. Any non-reusable and non-recyclable waste was sent to generate energy. In total, over 75% of the furniture, equipment and materials from the site was reused, with 24% being recycled and less than 1% going to generate energy. Nothing was sent to landfill!

Organisations Helped:

Avonmouth Sea Cadets is a charity based in Shirehampton that offers activities to young people to promote a range of skills and help prevent youth offending. The organisation received donations ranging from storage wall, desks and filing cabinets to boxes of mugs and stationery.

Woodstock School supports children with learning difficulties and works out of premises in Henbury, an economically deprived area of Bristol. The school received donations including picture frames, stationery and other smaller items to spruce up the old refectory where they are located.

The Markfield Project is an inclusive community hub in Haringey where disabled, deaf and autistic people can play, socialise and get information and support to help them live the life they want. Collecteco arranged delivery of furniture, crockery and stationery to the London-based charity.

Green Community Transport based in Yate, South Gloucestershire is a not for profit providing accessible transport. Donations from Hoare Lea allowed them to update their offices and accommodate additional staff and volunteers.

Simple Norfolk provides information and activities to benefit the lives of local people, whilst promoting community integration and cohesion. Their move to new premises was done on very limited budget and donations from Hoare Lea allowed them to kit out their new HQ to a very high standard that just wouldn’t have been possible on their very limited funding.

The Results:

+ Landfill Diverted: Over 36,000kg
+ C02 Reduction: reuse reduces transport associated with using new materials and products
+ Reuse vs buying new items made from virgin resources
+ Jobs/training created & supported and scarce funds of recipients protected
+ Support of local and national good causes
+ Cheaper to reuse than to landfill

Case Study: Maximising Reuse

The Challenge:

As a major relocation company, Harrow Green are often tasked with clearing unwanted furniture from clients’ premises and are committed to maximising reuse above recycling and landfill. Baker Tilly is a leading provider of accounting and business services. They relocated their Bath office to Bristol. Whilst most of the furniture was redeployed within the organisation and to charity partners, there was a surplus of reusable furniture that they were keen to see rehomed.

The Solution:

Harrow Green approached Collecteco to find homes for the unwanted furniture and due to the timescales involved,Collecteco arranged for Harrow Green to deliver the kit to its sister project, The Chrysalis. This meant that Harrow Green had a convenient and cost-effective solution for reusing the assets. In all, 51 items were delivered to The Chrysalis, including desks, pedestals, bookcases and cupboards. Within hours of the stock arriving over a quarter was being delivered to a local organisation. Reuse is a case of supply and demand. Often reuse is not maximised because reusers run out of capacity or “fill-up” quickly. The Chrysalis has been designed with this in mind. It is a 20,000 square foot facility that has the capacity to accept high volumes of reusables and store these until such time that there is a demand for them.

The Results:

+ Landfill Diverted: Approx 3000kg
+ C02 Reduction: Transport movements reduced versus landfill
+ Reuse vs. buying new items made from virgin resource
+ Jobs/Training created & supported: collection/warehousing/cleaning/delivery
+ Support of local good causes
+ Cheaper to reuse rather than skip furniture

Case Study: Roped Into Reuse

The Challenge:

PPS Pipeline carries out major installations of pipelines for energy and utility applications. The giant pipes are delivered in sections and rope is wrapped around these sections at certain intervals to act as protection from damage in transit. As a consequence of this project, Collecteco were approached to deal with some 5 tonnes of 3 metre long, mixed polymer rope waste.

The Solution:

Collecteco were tasked with finding an alternative to landfilling this waste stream. Although made of PP and PET strands, the two polymers could be easily separated by hand with a few strategic cuts and the original plan was for Collecteco to commission a project for people with learning difficulties, but further investigation revealed a good reuse opportunity. We had to assume that the rope was non-load bearing so could not be reused in conventional rope use terms, but we were approached by the Children’s Scrapstore, who make “wastethings playthings”. The rope was used to stock the charity’sPlayPods which are big shipping containers delivered to primary schools and nurseries. They are stacked full of interesting and fun items that allow children to explore a range of practical skills through play.

The Results:

+ C02 Reduction
+ Jobs/Training Created: Collection/warehousing/delivery/income for Scrapstore
+ Landfill Diverted: 5000kg

Case Study: Reusing Building Materials

The Challenge:

Kier Construction has been charged with managing the remodelling and refit of UWE’s Bower Ashton campus in Bristol. Kier appointed LA Moor to strip out and demolish as required. UWE required a commitment to high reuse and recycling and whilst LA Moor hasvery high rates of recycling, Collecteco was approached to consult on any potentially reusable items on site.

Collecteco carried out an audit to identify reusables and these included carpet tiles, light fittings and sections of insulation board. There were a number of challenges with this site, including the presence of asbestos, that meant that reuse opportunities were not as abundant as with other sites. However, this project demonstrates that there is always a case for considering opportunities to reuse before recycling, energy recovery or landfill.

The Solution:

In order to maximise reuse, LA Moor’s team of staff carefully removed the carpet tiles and light fittings and stacked them neatly on pallets to minimise transport movements and related C02 emissions. There was no forklift on site, but by careful stacking, we were able to load using the tail-lift on the collection vehicle, which further reduced emissions associated with having to hire a forklift or Hiab truck. In order that the items were removed quickly from site to prevent deterioration or damage, Kier liaised closely with Collecteco so that we could send a collection vehicle as soon as the pallets were ready for collection.

Reuse is a case of supply and demand. Often reuse is not maximised because reusers run out of capacity or “fill-up” quickly. The Chrysalis has been designed with this in mind. It is a 20,000 square foot facility that has the capacity to accept high volumes of reusables and store these until such time as there is a demand for them.

In the case of the carpet tiles and the light fittings, The Chrysalis holds “stock” for a number of charity shops. This is donated free of charge to help them refit their premises and recently we havedonated carpet tiles and light fittings to Mercy in Action in Bath and a new Salvation Army shop in Bristol. Otherwise, we have a continuous stream of enquiries from charities, schools and SMEs that are starting-upor refitting premises, so these will be used to help them furnish to a good standard and reduce their costs, which is important in the current economic environment. We will report back on the exact destination of these items when they are rehomed.

Whilst light fittings are quite straightforward to recycle under the WEEE regulations, carpet tile recycling infrastructure in the UK, especially for smaller amounts, is underdeveloped. Had the carpet tiles not been reused, they would probably have ended up in a landfill. Insulated metal panels are also difficult to recycle, as, whilst the metal can be stripped off, the insulation board is again usually destined for landfill.

Collecteco cleared four metal insulation panel off-cuts from the site. These panels were also donated to The Chrysalis and will be used either in their current state or the metal removed so that the board can be cut to size more easily for use as a highly efficient insulation material. Surprisingly there is a lot of demand for metal insulation panels like these and The Chrysalis recently rehomed 80 x 8 metre by1.2 metre sections to a local commercial landlord that uses them to divide old warehouses to give low-cost premises for SMEs. There is also great interest in insulation and other building materials from the ever-growing self-build community that is very active in Bristol and across the country.

The Results:

+ Landfill Diverted: 800kg
+ C02 Reduction: Transport reduced by careful stacking and local reuse
+ Reuse vs. buying new items made from virgin resources
+ Jobs/Training created & supported: collection/warehousing/cleaning/delivery
+ Support of local good causes
+ Cheaper to reuse than to skip tiles