Furniture reuse enterprise in Scotland shows the way to circular economy

15 November 2018

A new and innovative furniture reuse cooperative in Glasgow has been recognised by the First Minister for bringing the benefits of reuse and repair to housing associations and social landlords across the city.

Total Homes Co-op launched its Void Clearance Service last month. The team saves furniture from house clearances which would otherwise have ended up in landfill. They then recover and repair the items which means they can sell them on for an affordable price to the public, showing that collaboration is the key to making real progress in the circular economy.

This is just one of the projects supported by environmental consultancy Resource Futures through Zero Waste Scotland’s Circular Economy Business Support Service and Circular Economy Investment Fund. Nicola Sturgeon praised the initiative at the recent Circular Economy Hotspot event in Glasgow.

Resource Futures is helping small and medium sized enterprises like Total Homes to develop sound, financially sustainable circular business models, and is bringing reuse initiatives like this together.

Allan Sandilands of Resource Futures (centre) with Brian Jenkins and Pauline Smith from Total Homes

Pauline Smith from ReConnect Glasgow, one of the founders of Total Homes, said: “We could see that house clearances often ended up producing a substantial amount of waste, and that there was a big opportunity for someone to help close the loop. Total Homes is all about reusing and repairing as many items as possible, enabling landlords to reduce their environmental impact and allowing prospective tenants to obtain good quality items at lower cost.

“Our cooperative model allows new members to join as we grow, and for any profits to be re-invested into the scheme for the benefit of the communities we work within.”

Allan Sandilands, Principal Consultant from Resource Futures said: “This is a great example of how organisations in Scotland are taking reuse to new levels and making breakthroughs towards a circular economy. At the moment Total Homes is working within Glasgow but we see the potential for this model to be scaled up and delivered across Scotland.”

Zero Waste Scotland’s Circular Economy Business Support Service, which is supported by the Scottish Government and the European Regional Development Fund, provides tailored support to SMEs to explore more circular approaches; the Circular Economy Investment Fund offers investment for SMEs based in Scotland and supports work that will deliver circular economy growth. Total Homes has been awarded funding to help launch its new service.

With decades of experience supporting businesses to manage resources more sustainably, Resource Futures is involved in a number of projects to drive innovation in reuse. The team in Scotland has helped public sector organisations such as NHS Highland and NHS Shetland to increase reuse by developing a Waste Prevention and Reuse Action Plan. This means they can now understand and address the challenges around waste prevention and reuse and have a clear map to monitor progress towards their strategic goals.

Elsewhere, Resource Futures’ recent report for WRAP Cymru and the Welsh government, Preparing for reuse: a roadmap for a paradigm shift in Wales, showed the multiple opportunities in preparing waste for reuse: creating jobs, saving money and of course reducing waste.

Sandilands said: “It’s great to see that more organisations across the public and private sector are recognising the financial, environmental and social benefits of circular business models and resource efficiency, and we’re delighted to continue playing a role in supporting this important shift to more sustainable resource management for Scotland and beyond.”