Reuse shop saves more than 100 tonnes of items from going to waste

Reuse 1 year

A REUSE SHOP at Sunderland’s Pallion Household Waste and Recycling Centre (HWRC) has saved more than 100 tonnes of treasured household items from going to waste in its first year.

Among the 135,000 plus items which would otherwise have been burned to produce electricity were 3076 pairs of shoes, 14,898 books, 724 lamps, 393 jigsaws, 3700 CDs and 886 women’s jumpers. 

The St Vincent’s Revive Reuse shop, which allows people to donate things they no longer need to be recycled, resold and reused rather than being burned to produce electricity, is part of Sunderland City Council's commitment to being a clean green city.

It is operated by the St Vincent De Paul Society for England & Wales (SVP), with all the proceeds going towards the charity's work to tackle poverty and help some of the most vulnerable people in society through their person-to-person support. This includes a befriending service, debt advice and the provision of emergency food parcels.

Finds donated to the shop in its first year include a Mulberry handbag, vintage Barbour coats, Ercol furniture, a rare, boxed set of Matchbox cars – and a euphonium. And the shop has also become so popular that it's not unknown for customers to visit several times a day to check for new stock which is coming in all the time.

An appeal for prom dresses last Spring resulted in the reuse shop being able to give away more than 40 dresses to people who would otherwise have struggled to afford them.

Councillor Claire Rowntree, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Clean, Green City at Sunderland City Council, said: "The reuse shop has been a fantastic addition to the facilities on offer at Pallion HWRC since it opened last year.

“We know how important the environment is for our residents, so ventures like this are a key part of our ongoing drive to make Sunderland a clean green city.

“It's brilliant to see the shop becoming so popular, and so many shoes, books and items that people no longer have a use for being recycled and resold at affordable prices to take on a new lease of life in a new home.

"Having the shop on site means that anyone who’s having a clear-out can bring things they no longer need or have room for, to the re-use shop when they visit the household waste and recycling centre, instead of just throwing them out. It's also been brilliant for people looking to make their budget go further in the current cost of living crisis.” 

Elizabeth Palmer Chief Executive of the St Vincent de Paul Society, said: "Thank you to everyone who has made the first year a resounding success. Revive Sunderland has shown that by donating pre-loved items that would otherwise have been destined for waste, we can raise vital funds for the SVP to support our work in local communities. The number of people turning to us for help has steadily increased as many more face food poverty, are struggling to pay bills, and face loneliness and isolation, so please keep your donations coming."

The shop has also become popular that there are sometimes queues outside the door before it opens and it's not unknown for people to pop in several times a day to check for new stock.

Carbon savings from 100 tonnes of items being reused rather than going to waste, also support Sunderland’s target to become carbon neutral by 2040. The savings, which equate to 2.13 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (or CO2e), demonstrate the impact residents can have in helping make Sunderland a clean and green city.

The reuse shop opens 7 days a week to shop or donate and there is no need to have a permit to shop or donate.

Donna Scott, who manages the shop on behalf of the SVP, added: "It's a real team effort. We currently have 15 staff and volunteers who work super hard to keep things going.  We also offer learning opportunities for students from Springboard and have had some amazing things donated."

The £5m Pallion HWRC, where the reuse shop is based, was opened by Sunderland City Council in February 2022 in response to residents' demands for bigger and better household waste and recycling facilities.

Managed by Suez, the HWRC operates a booking system and is open every day of the year apart from Christmas Day, and has more than 18,000 resident bookings each month.