Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles has commended the third sector for its ‘waste-savvy’ approach to re-use, and called for more recycling reward schemes in the UK. #reuseconference

In a keynote address at the 25th anniversary conference of the Furniture Re-use Network (FRN) in Nottinghamshire yesterday, Mr Pickles praised delegates for their commitment to the ‘re-use challenge’ – and suggested councils should commission more charities to dispose of unwanted bulky waste.

He said: “The more waste-savvy we become, the more networks like this are needed. People are now starting to think I don’t need this, who else might want to use it?

Rewards

"There is still too much waste which is why we should reward people for recycling more. Local authorities know that household waste has to go somewhere, so why not commission a charity to take care of it? It’s important that other sectors are called on to take up the re-use challenge.”

Mr Pickles went on to suggest re-use organisations were ‘too polite’, and should take advantage of the rights enshrined in the Localism Act, which was introduced in 2011 to devolve more decision making powers from central government back into the hands of individuals, communities and councils.

He added: “We believe in localism but we want you at the top of that process. You’re more adaptable than local authorities but maybe you’re too polite, just say what you want and take it. We created the Localism Act but it has never been fully tested. I think this gives you a lot of power to be able to make a difference. Government is slow and useless, we’re just in charge of standards and quality control. Go out and take it.”

Contribution

And, commenting on the relationship between central government and the third sector, Mr Pickles said: “FRN has been going 25 valuable years, it’s an extraordinary achievement. The government recognises just how valuable this contribution is – volunteering is a noble and great act. And best of all, volunteering is best for a person’s well-being.

“Some people will say shouldn’t the state be providing more? Well I admire the optimism for the state being able to do something about this. But if the only help you get is from the state I think it diminishes what society can offer.”

Mr Pickles’ comments came as FRN chief executive Craig Anderson warned there were ‘difficult times’ ahead for the sector, and assured delegates that the conference would be an opportunity to create an action plan for the next 25 years.

Mr Anderson said: “Some 10 million items of furniture are throwing away in this country each year – we could easily reuse two million. We have eight members of staff, you have 5,000 staff, so we need to work together.”

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