Reduce, re-use, recycle, repair!

15th October 2021 Posted by

This Saturday (16 October) is International Repair Day – and what better opportunity to share with you a handful of the great re-use and repair projects that SUEZ has been undertaking at Devon’s re-use shops and household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) which we operate on behalf of the county council. We caught up with Jacqui Winterburn, Devon Re-use Area Coordinator, to find out about their latest projects.

My favourite project so far has been our ‘Bike Benches’. I had an idea that we could upcycle some vintage bikes into benches and managed to source the material from our HWRCs in Devon. With a little welding assistance from Gary Abbot Earthworks, we produced these beautiful bike benches which will soon be auctioned off in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.

You would be surprised at just what people throw away at our HWRCs. When I saw the number of musical equipment and instruments that were being thrown away, I was keen to see whether any of them could be re-used or repaired. Darren at Retro Amps helped us to repair a number of amps and keyboards which would otherwise have gone to waste, with many of these being donated to local children. We also see a lot of guitars at the HWRCs, so with help from Lewis Durtnell from Torbay Guitars we have managed to repair over 13 guitars so far and donate them to local music groups and children. Who knows – maybe we’ve helped to create the next Ed Sheeran?!

Whilst there’s not much use for typewriters these days, they are still beautiful machines which seem a real shame to throw away. I managed to source a typewriter repair business who buys them, repairs them and sells them on to collectors. The money raised from these will go to support local good causes in Devon, with the first donation set to go to Care for Kids – North Devon.

A chance encounter at one of our HWRCs with Harry Jennings led me to begin salvaging garden tools that people had thrown away. Harry is part of a local group called ‘Sustainable South Brent’ which undertakes conservation and biodiversity work in Devon and mentioned that they needed garden tools – and lots of them! I put the call out to our network of HWRCs across Devon and before long we had plenty of garden tools. Many really didn’t need that much work to be put back into use – a few tightened screws and straightened bends later and we were ready to hand over the tools to Harry.

Over 11,000 bicycles are thrown away in the UK each year. Some of them are far too old and rusty to be re-used, but many of them are in perfect working order or just need a few minor repairs like new chains, tightened breaks or a new seat. Particularly since the start of the pandemic, the demand for bikes has never been higher so we were keen to see whether any bikes thrown away at our HWRCs could be repaired and re-used. Wherever possible, we salvage re-usable bikes and pass them on to Rideon, an Exeter based charity which has so far repaired over 4,000 bikes and put them back into circulation. The money raised from this is split between Rideon and Macmillan Cancer Support.

It really is staggering just how much is thrown away each year which could easily be repaired and re-used. We’ll keep doing what we can to prevent items from going to waste, but next time you’re ready to chuck out that old spade or clunky old bike – have a stab at repairing it. You may just save yourself a couple of quid, too!

If you want to get in touch, have a re-use or repair idea, or want to know more about what we do, please get in touch with us on

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