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The Proximity Solution. ESEE Conference Istanbul June 2011 Degrowth Special Session. Community enterprise, social resilience & slower consumption

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slide1

The Proximity Solution

ESEE Conference

Istanbul

June 2011

Degrowth

Special Session

Community enterprise,

social resilience &

slower consumption

A case study of enterprises offering product repair and re-use services through the social economy in Wales (UK) applying the Proximity Principle and the Waste Hierarchy to material flows of production, consumption and disposal.

Richard Thomas

Cylch,Wales Community Recycling Network

slide2

Context

  • Sustainable Development (SD) requires consumption in modern economies within ecological limits.
  • Current European economies are over-consuming resources at 3 times the earth’s carrying capacity.
  • The gap between the richest and poorest in society wider than ever.
  • SD demands a radical economic rethink away from over-consumption and away from social inequality.
slide3

Key question:

  • What type of business model supports sustainable resource consumption and promotes social resilience and human wellbeing?
  • Examine practical businesses that support sustainable resource management and product consumption and disposal in Wales (UK), and that provide an increased level of social inclusion and welfare, local economic benefit and community cohesion.
  • Proposed answer in the form of the ‘Proximity Solution’ where local communities take ownership over their impacts and benefit socially and economically from that direct control.
slide5

New perspective …

Waste? & benefits of sustainable resource management

New opportunities…

Cylch work to form a Reuse & Repair Network –

shifting local economies from production

to service systems,

regenerating communities,

raising public confidence,

influencing markets and consumer behaviour.

RSA’s WEEE Man

slide6

New perspective …Why do more ‘reuse’?

  • Achieve waste targets
  • Build on community enterprise capacity
  • Retain local value / benefits of ‘waste’ materials
  • Slower materials consumption
  • More local training and jobs
  • Anti-poverty & social inclusion
  • Greater carbon savings
  • Move towards sustainable resource management

RSA’s WEEE Man

slide7

New opportunities …

more ‘service’ from less ‘stuff’

see Anne Leonard’s ‘Story of Stuff’ film www.storyofstuff.org

RSA’s WEEE Man

slide8

The Problem

Unsustainable over-consumption of resources

Leads to climate change, resource depletion and undermines community resilience …

slide10

The Problem

Growth & Mr. Creosote

slide12

The Problem

Throwaway Society – consumerism, manufacturing-based economic growth model,product replacement social norm,

workingproducts thrown away …

slide13

The Problem

Waste is physical manifestation

= unsustainable !!

slide15

Social division is increasing …

The Problem

“Inequality is higher in OECD nations than 20 yrs ago … growth has let much of the world’s population down. Wealth has trickled up to the lucky few.”

Prosperity without growth? Professor Tim Jackson

Sustainable Development Commission (UK), March 2009

slide16

Social division is increasing …

The Problem

Wales Income Poverty

Children living in low income households

2003/04-2005/06 = 28% 2006/07-2008/09 = 32%

Children living in workless households

2006 = 16.9% 2009 = 19.9%

Children living in in-work poverty

2006/07 = 25.0% 2008/09 = 26.7%

slide17

The Response

EU Waste Hierarchy

slide18

Prevention

Preparing for Reuse

Recycling

Energy Recovery

Disposal

slide19

Applying the waste hierarchy – Delays ‘End of Life’

Preparing for reuse enables secondary ‘ownership’ of whole product or components

RECYCLING

RECOVERY

DISPOSAL

RSA’s WEEE Man

slide20

Move towards sustainable resource management

Intercept more materials here +

‘prepare for reuse’

Reuse Strategy for Wales

RSA’s WEEE Man

slide21

Carbon Savings in Resource Management

Minimisation

Reuse

Recycling

Energy from Waste

Landfill

Greater carbon savings …

Inverse relationship…

Carbon savings are greatest at the top …

Minimisation

Re-use

Re-cycling

Energy from Waste

Landfill

slide23

2010

Waste Prevention, SCP and Waste Management Targets

2025

Waste Prevention and SCP

2050

Key Milestones

  • 2025: Towards Zero Waste
  • Significant waste reduction (27% reduction)
  • Recycling rate of at least 70%
  • ‘Closed loop recycling’ systems (quality approach) in Wales
  • Residual waste to high efficiency EfW
  • As close to zero landfill as possible
  • 2050: Achieving Zero Waste
  • Reduce our share of Wales’ ecological footprint to ‘one planet’ levels by 2050 (65% reduction of waste)
  • Produce no residual waste - any waste that is produced is re-used/ recycled (at 100%).
slide24

Achieve waste targets

Cylch Reuse Strategy supports Welsh Assembly Government targets in

Towards Zero Waste strategy.

Good News!

Members already providing ‘preparing for reuse’ services – over 4000 tonnes of reuse in 2009.

RSA’s WEEE Man

slide25

But …

Furniture Reuse Network (UK) estimate 10,000,000 potentially working items are sent to landfill disposal each year …

… with 300,000 tonnes of that possible to be reused …

… so only just scratching the surface!!

RSA’s WEEE Man

slide29

Achieve waste targets – Management implications

Products identified with “significant opportunities to increase reuse and therefore go up the waste hierarchy’

The product streams are:

1. Domestic furniture 8. Small household items

2. Bicycles 9. Office furniture

3. WEEE 10. Paint

4. Textiles 11. Building materials

5. Books 12. Children’s equipment

6. Carpets 13. Miscellaneous commercial

7. Fitted products/units 14. Sports & leisure equipment

RSA’s WEEE Man

slide30

The Response

Proximity Principle

slide31

“EU Waste Framework Directive requires a network of installations for the recovery of waste, by means of the most appropriate methods and technologies, in order to ensure a high level of protection for the environment and public health.”

The Response

Proximity Principle

slide32

But, in practice the Proximity Principle is not yet being effectively applied to the Waste Hierarchy … it looks at controlling negative impacts from disposal or recycling …

The Response

Proximity Principle

slide33

In practice, waste management companies are global businesses with ‘waste’ as their commodity – vested commercial interests often resist the shift towards sustainable resource management …

The Response

Proximity Principle

slide34

…a new perspective is required to encompass the

triple bottom line of SD …

… an opportunity to support community regeneration if taken to mean retaining local benefits as well as controlling impacts …

TheProximity Solution

slide35

Examples of successful reuse operations …

Kringloop Reuse Centres (Flanders)

Promotion of Reuse and Repair of Household Waste.

Flanders has implemented a Reuse Centre system to prevent waste by facilitating the resale of discarded products.

Apart from environmental objectives,

Kringloop Reuse Centres also

deliver an important social function.

RSA’s WEEE Man

slide36

Examples of successful reuse operations …

St. Vincent de Paul’s – Eugene, Oregon, USA

St. Vincent de Paul is the largest non-profit humanitarian agency in Lane County serving a population of over 350,000 with:

280 employees,

800 units of affordable housing,

5 emergency service programs,

8 retail thrift stores,

a Vocational Services Department helping difficult to place job candidates,

a glass foundry,

a car donation/sales centre,

a mattress recycling operation and

a wood shop.

Cost of living below national average …

RSA’s WEEE Man

slide37

Cylch Reuse Members in Wales

45 registered Reuse Members covering all local government areas …

Build on existing capacity …

Potential for a formal ‘Reuse & Repair Network’ …

Support regional linkages and geography …

Wales Reuse Strategy

slide38

Establish Reuse & Repair Network

‘operationalstandards’ for ‘reuse & repair’ centres – providing public confidence, reporting of waste diversion, training, jobsand new community business opportunities …

Position Cylch members to fulfil requirements for a ‘network of reuse & repair centres’ employing locally trained and qualified Reuse Operators

slide39

Local community facilities …

PROXIMITYSOLUTION:

Intercept more materials here +

‘prepare for reuse’

Wales Reuse Strategy

RSA’s WEEE Man

slide40

PROXIMITY SOLUTION

…Community Businesses

Applying the Waste Hierarchy & Proximity Principle

With multiple benefits: social, economic & environmental

= Sustainable Resource Management within the Social Economy …

slide41

What are the multiple benefits?

social,

economic

& environmental

slide42

Social benefits of community enterprise

  • financial value of products retained locally – supports local economy, more resilient local businesses, community projects retain commercial value;
  • anti-poverty projectsand financial savings (e.g. affordable furniture for homeless or low income families);
  • ‘in sight, in mind’ - connects to consumers, reinforces ‘sustainable behaviour’ and community education opportunities – shifting the ‘social logic’;
  • skills developmentand training in careful handling, repair and refurbishment – higher ‘skill sets’ than disposal/recycling – new Reuse Qualifications;
  • volunteers – e.g., help into workplace for unemployed or ex-offenders

RSA’s WEEE Man

slide43

Economic benefits of community enterprise

  • Welfare State savings e.g. through provision of low cost furniture to low income families, ‘starter packs’ for housing the homeless;
  • lower financial costs in handling, transporting and reprocessing compared to recycling or disposal (government cost savings = £70/tonne gate fee for landfill disposal);
  • higher relative product value with the potential to ‘upcycle’ (increasing value through resale, repair or refurbishment e.g. £800/tonne for washing machines or £6000/tonne for clothing);
  • partnership working between private, public and third sectors (cost efficiency and shared services).
  • promotes ‘product service’ systems (e.g. repair, hire, upgrading) rather than ‘product consumption’;

RSA’s WEEE Man

slide44

Environmental benefits of community enterprise

  • extended life cycle of products – by delaying ‘end of life’ less need for waste treatment;
  • reduced throughput of raw materials for production and consumption;
  • diverts ‘difficult materials’ (e.g. electricals, carpets, paint etc);
  • lower carbon footprint + potential for ‘carbon credits’ from carbon savings.

RSA’s WEEE Man

slide45

An average community reuse organisation*

  • alleviates poverty providing reused items to 1,676 households p.a.
  • employs 10 staff and has 60 places for trainees and volunteers
  • has a warehouse, a shop and 3 collection vehicles
  • reuses 5000 items of furniture and 700 electrical appliances p.a.
  • diverts over 180 tonnes from landfill p.a.
  • annual turnover of £250,000

* FRN Membership analysis

RSA’s WEEE Man

slide46

Let’s Prove it! 2009 - quantifying the benefits

Cylch Members in Wales

  • c.4000 tonnes of material reused
  • c.4000 x £70 = £280,000 saved in waste disposal fees
  • £14,000,000 income generated to local community businesses
  • 857 paid jobs
  • 3000 volunteers
  • 1,800 social service clients (e.g. learning / physical disability)
  • 770 trainees
  • 800 prisoners in work placements
  • 200 unemployed work placements
  • Over 1200 other work or training placements
  • 15 local authority service contracts successfully tendered for

RSA’s WEEE Man

slide47

Cylch Member - Welsh example

Pembrokeshire FRAME is an award-winning organisation whose social mission is the employment of severely disadvantaged people.

FRAME is a community re-use organisation, providing much needed services to the county of Pembrokeshire. FRAME extends the useful life of furniture, clothing and other household items

FRAME offers low cost, pre-used items to people in need.

FRAME provides a real work environment to people recovering from mental ill health or with a learning difficulty

RSA’s WEEE Man

slide48

PROXIMITY SOLUTION

Community Business / Social Enterprise

the vanguardof

the degrowth movement …

… not just driven by profit motive – they account for the triple bottom line …

… shifting ‘social logic’ away from consumerism

slide49

“The Social Economy is a network of community organisations acting locally for positive change.

Profits are reinvested in projects that benefit the local community and environment.

Governments have enjoyed huge budget savings across departments through the activities of social enterprises.

This is a real model for sustainable commerce that creates benefits, rather than coming at an immense cost.”

Excerpt from: Cylch, Charity Bank and WSRT ‘Funding the Future’

slide51

Wales Sustainability Reinvestment Trust

Cylch and partners have secured investment finance to support and nurture the development of the social economy in Wales.

Loan finance administered by Charity Bank is reinvested into the social economy to ensure economic resilience in the longer term …

slide53

The Cylch InvestmentProgramme (CIP)

CIP launched in 2008 as an investment programme to improve Members financial sustainability.

The Welsh Assembly Government awarded £3million to help Cylch members become more sustainable and better positioned to contribute to its Waste Strategy.

Cylch contracted Charity Bank to manage the programme.

slide54

… helping create sustainable new commercial and social opportunities for Cylch Reuse Members– e.g. community resource centres …

Using SD as the guiding principle

slide55

WORK TO DO …

  • Government actions required
  • strategic approach to product reuse; retain existing utility and value
  • utilise active reuse social enterprises embedded in their communities
  • Join up department budgets for more effective ‘multi-benefit’ service delivery
slide56

WORK TO DO …

  • Civil movement actions
  • Support the development of the Welsh Reuse Sector
  • Further develop and nurture with social reinvestment
  • Replicate through other regional networks
slide57

Conclusion

Degrowth – ‘absolute’ reduction of resource consumption within a sustainable, stable economy - requires getting more ‘service’ from less ‘stuff’.

Happily, reducing resource consumption and supporting social and economic well-being can be achieved simply through effectively applying the Proximity Solutionin preparing discarded products for reuse.

slide58

Thank You

richard.thomas@cylch.org.uk