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Standards for bulky waste


In July 2005, FRN issued the following press release about its bulky waste project

Setting the standards for bulky waste

The Furniture Re-use Network (FRN), in partnership with the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) and Network Recycling, will be developing best practice processes and opportunities for the community sector to get involved in Bulky Household Waste services in England, a piece of work supported by Defra’s Waste Partnership Fund.

With the aim of moving waste re-use up the waste and policy agenda, the work will:

• Include the publication of Best Practice Guidance for community re-use organisations

• Offer ongoing assistance to groups currently negotiating partnerships

• Undertake research into the costs and benefits of contracting out the bulky waste service, to determine the true value of setting up these partnerships.

Furniture re-use organisations operate in a fundamentally different way to current local authority services notably by entering the householders’ property, taking care to retain the value of items during collection and transit, and testing, repairing and passing on any potentially reusable items. Partnerships between local authorities and furniture re-use organisations could change the face of bulky waste services in the UK as we know it.

Caroline Lee-Smith, the FRN’s Development Officer managing the project, comments that “This project gives the FRN the opportunity to pull together all the pioneering work that has gone before, including various consultancy projects, plus it will take the next step to radically change bulky waste practices. The community re-use sector can offer local authorities great benefits, including delivering a high standard of bulky waste service, assisting local people into employment and providing people on low incomes with basic household items. We aim to set out the national standards and specific codes of practice that our members will work to, offering reliable and auditable ways of re-using and recycling items and facilitating partnerships.”

This project fits with the FRN’s overarching aim of setting up national standards for its members so that potential partners can be assured of a high quality, transparent operation.

“Local authority bulky waste collection and reception services in the UK are currently facing a number of challenges. These include changes that will be necessary following the implementation of the European Union Restriction Of Hazardous Substances and Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment Directives and the pending introduction of a Best Value Performance Indicator for re-use. In addition central government are encouraging local authorities to set up cross-sector partnerships, especially in the procurement of public services. This project will assist local authorities not just in setting up partnerships but also in being able to satisfy their legal obligations with regard to consumer protection and Duty of Care.”

Ruth Evans, Recycling Officer, Cheshire County Council

“As one of a number of projects trying to enter into agreements with our local authority for bulky waste collections we have been in need of support and advice that can now be offered by the FRN. The processes involved in dealing with LAs are very different from working with the general public. Having access to information and documentation will be invaluable. We have luckily had a very good initial response from our local authority who are keen to reduce the number of re-useable items going to landfill but will need guidance on setting up Service Level Agreements and contracts. Having the facility to go into meetings armed and prepared will be hugely beneficial. If we, and other projects, can get this right we have the opportunity to not only gain access to vital items of furniture and electrical goods, but to enable us to provide more volunteer and work placements and potentially give us an additional income stream.”

Emma Mahy, Project Manager, Dorcas New Forest Furniture Project

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