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£100,000 of funding for region’s first construction materials reuse hub

Published: Wednesday 28 Feb 2024

The region’s first reuse hub, where local people will be able to buy surplus bricks, tiles, flooring and other building supplies, saving them money and reducing landfill, is being set up with £100,000 of funding from the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

The money, from the WMCA’s £1m Community Environment Fund, will enable The Reuse Hub to open in Wolverhampton later this year and run in a partnership between The Rebuild Site CIC (Community Interest Company) and Wolverhampton charity All Saints Action Network (ASAN).

It is a significant first step for the WMCA’s nationally leading work to grow the circular economy and support sectors such as construction, manufacturing, and food production to be more efficient in the way they use resources.

Surplus materials from construction sites, builders' merchants, wholesalers and others in the West Midlands supply chain – which often ends up as waste – will be taken by The Reuse Hub and sold on to small traders, DIYers, gardeners and craftspeople at a substantially discounted cost.

In its first full year of operation, around 600 tonnes of material is expected to be diverted away from landfill – the equivalent weight of 250 Ozzy the bulls or 20 West Midlands Metro trams.

It will also create jobs, apprenticeships and volunteering opportunities, and host repair and skills workshops.

Cutting waste from the construction sector - the region’s biggest producer of waste by volume – is going to be crucial to the region achieving its #WM2041 ambition to be net zero in the next two decades.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, met the team setting up The Reuse Hub at ASAN’s Wood Saints Wood Depot in Wolverhampton yesterday, Tuesday 27th February, where they already recycle unwanted wood.

Shobha Asar-Paul, chief officer at All Saints Action Network, Cllr Craig Collingswood, City of Wolverhampton Council’s cabinet member for environment and climate change, Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, and Debbie Ward, director at Rebuild CIC.

Shobha Asar-Paul, chief officer at All Saints Action Network, Cllr Craig Collingswood, City of Wolverhampton Council’s cabinet member for environment and climate change, Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, and Debbie Ward, director at Rebuild CIC.

The Mayor said: “Growing the circular economy is one of the most effective actions that we can take to reduce waste, protect the environment and achieve our net zero ambitions.

“It’s fantastic to see for myself how the Reuse Hub, a first for our region, is benefitting from £100,000 from our Community Environment Fund to help extend the life of many hundreds of tonnes of raw materials from the construction sector that would otherwise end up as waste.

“There is also the added bonus of saving local people money with the opportunity to buy unwanted bricks, tiles, flooring and other building materials at a significantly lower cost.

“We’re already seeing the positive impact of the environment funding we’ve made available to support nature projects right across the region. It’s great news that thanks to Commonwealth Games legacy funding, we’re able to support more locally led schemes like the Reuse Hub that can reduce waste and help make communities more resilient and prepared for the impacts of climate change. I look forward to making more funding announcements in the coming weeks and months.”

Shobha Asar-Paul, chief officer at ASAN, said “Partnering with Rebuild to launch The Reuse Hub in Wolverhampton is a huge win. This new venture will enable us together to develop a much broader reuse offer that aligns with ASAN’s longstanding work in progressing the circular economy. The opportunity this WMCA funding provides cannot be underestimated and we look forward to working with our community to support their environment and enabling greater social value that makes a difference to people’s lives. Look out for updates on social media- there will be lots going on.”

Debbie Ward, director at The Rebuild Site CIC, said: “We are delighted to receive this funding which will enable us to work with the region’s construction sector to decrease waste, maximise resources and reduce carbon emissions whilst delivering positive social impact. The team are already starting to contact local organisations to discuss how The Reuse Hub can work with them to reduce their skip costs and deliver positive impact, which of course is also great for their ESG reporting.”

The WMCA’s Circular Economy Routemap sets out what needs to be done with local partners to ensure precious resources are kept in use for as long as possible, rather than being used once and disposed of in landfill.

Last year, a study by the WMCA found that a network of construction material recovery hubs like the one now being funded in Wolverhampton would cut 4,000 tonnes of carbon emissions and generate up to £1.5 million of additional GVA for the region’s economy. 

The funding is coming from the WMCA’s Community Environment Fund - a £1 million pot of Commonwealth Games legacy money to support green schemes that connect local people to nature, reduce waste and bolster the region’s resilience to climate change.

Community groups and regional organisations can bid for small grants of up to £25,000 and large grants of up to £100,000.

To enable as many people as possible to benefit from the grants, the WMCA is working in partnership with regional charity Heart of England Community Foundation, which is managing the online portal and supporting the application and appraisal process.

More funding announcements will be made in the coming weeks.

Cllr John Cotton, the WMCA’s portfolio lead for environment and energy, and leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “The Community Environment Fund was set up to support grassroots efforts to protect and restore the environment and reduce the impact that our every day actions have on current and future generations.

“The funding is available to community groups right across the region and whether it’s opening up access to more green and blue spaces, reducing waste and taking action to adapt to climate change, I urge groups to apply.”

Tina Costello, CEO of Heart of England Community Foundation, said: "I'm proud to see the first grant awarded from the Community Environment Fund. This kickstarts a wave of vital environmental initiatives and sets the stage for more sustainability and a greener, fairer future for communities across the West Midlands. The Reuse Hub is a fantastic example of community-led green innovation and we are excited to be a part of this journey."

Cllr Craig Collingswood, City of Wolverhampton Council’s cabinet member for environment and climate change, said: “This is a truly innovative project that will bring huge benefits to Wolverhampton and the wider region. By repurposing excess materials, The Reuse Hub will have a positive impact on the local environment, offer training, apprenticeship and employment opportunities to support local people, boost the local economy and help residents to develop skills that will be useful when working in the sustainability and green sectors.

“As a council we are working to achieve carbon net zero across the wider city by 2041 in line with the regional target set by West Midlands Combined Authority. By reusing construction materials, this project helps support the principles of the circular economy to reduce carbon emissions. I am delighted that the region’s first construction waste reuse hub will be operating from Wolverhampton.”

Find out how to apply to the Community Environment Fund on the WMCA website.

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