Deputy Leader of the Green Party Visits Sadlers to Discuss Reuse

Deputy Leader of the Green Party and Dudley councillor Will Duckworth visited Sadlers last week to discuss the merits of reuse over recycling and the difficulties in getting the message across to businesses and individuals.

Back in April of this year Will Duckworth, Dudley Councillor and Deputy Leader of the Green Party, spoke at the Zero Waste Awards about the importance of reuse. He stressed that "recycling should be the last resort" when it comes to packaging and used items.

His speech struck a chord with us at Sadlers as it reflects our own principles, especially when it comes to cardboard boxes, so we invited Will to visit our premises and see how our reuse scheme works. We have been campaigning for companies to think of reuse as the first step in the process of waste management for quite some time, and have been running a successful cardboard box reuse scheme for decades, so we were keen to share ideas on raising awareness and to gain a better understanding of why it can be so difficult to get the message across, something Will Duckworth has experience in.

Will's speech raised a range of important points about the impact of economic growth on the generation of waste and the dangers of a throwaway society when it comes to a sustainable future. But his dislike of recycling and his enthusiasm for reuse for which he argues that "the older system [of collecting packaging for re-use] is better than the one in place today" didn't seem to go down too well with the audience, despite the common goal being to discuss ideas on reducing waste. Why was this? Well, the big players tend to be recycling companies; the ones who take the used glass bottles, boxes and other packaging items, break them down and turn them back into what they were at the beginning. In the case of glass bottles, recycling uses 50% less energy than creating a new one from scratch, but Will points out that "rinsing it out and reusing it uses just a tiny fraction of that." This reflects our passion for cardboard box reuse - why send boxes to be recycled back into boxes, when they can simply be used again?

But the wider point is that sometimes getting the reuse message across is difficult because of the recycling companies who want to protect their profits - more reuse means less recycling after all. Instead of adapting to a better way by "making use of what already exists" as Will puts it, the recycling companies remain concerned only about their short-term growth, a problem that ultimately generates more waste when you consider the energy and resources used up in the recycling process.

We thank Will Duckworth for taking the time to visit us, and wish him all the very best with his efforts to raise the profile of reuse.