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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Research project: Reuse and recycling of bulky wastes

Currently Active: 

Strategies and Technologies for Sustainable Urban Waste Management: Project 6

Bulky electrical waste items
Bulky electrical waste items

The purpose of Project 6 was to:

  • Investigate urban waste avoidance network schemes in terms of operation, participants and different views (e.g. technical, socio-economic, financial) of success;
  • Use findings from the above to a) make recommendations to improve operational effectiveness; and b) develop multi-domain assessment methods including ranges of socio-economic and environmental costs and benefits, for a better comparison of re-use initiatives.
recycling furniture
Recycling furniture

This project aimed to refine existing cost-benefit assessment methods for waste avoidance and re-use schemes. The focus was on network initiatives of different types operating across public, voluntary, and domestic sectors.

The main case studies focused on Southampton, Cambridge and the Aylesbury Estate, a high-rise housing estate in London managed by Southwark Council. The first type of multi-sector network examined was bulky goods recovery. The second focused on more informal schemes to exchange and re-use goods, often partly facilitated by institutions such as schools, clubs or other semi-formal means of association. The third phase of the work developed evaluation methods based on the data sets collected in the earlier two phases, and suggested methods for optimising performance.

The bulky waste projects were led by Ian Williams and Tony Curran at Southampton. The principal aims were to:

  1. Scope the bulky waste stream
  2. Identify current approximate re-use rates
  3. Identify mechanisms and potential for improvement, along with constraints

CIWM James Jackson Award 2006
CIWM James Jackson Award 2006
Key findings
  • Closer co-operation between collection agencies and community furniture re-use schemes would result more diversion from landfill and redistribution of items
  • Closer co-ordination over re-use and recycling strategies between waste collection and disposal authorities would improve effective partnerships
  • Successful inter-sector co-operation requires mutual understanding of the organisational, duty of care and funding constraints on all parties
  • Public communication of bulky waste collections needs to be simpler and more consistent
  • Many operational and organisational factors for effective furniture re-use schemes are locally-specific

One of the research outputs for this project was awarded the CIWM James Jackson Award for 2006. This award is presented annually for the best formal written paper presented by any member of the CIWM during the previous calendar year.

Associated research themes

Centre for Environmental Sciences

Strategies & Technologies for Sustainable Urban Waste Management

Related research groups

Centre for Environmental Sciences
Waste Management

Key Publications

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