Headlines: November 26th, 2004

The voluntary and community sector is to get more money to help it carry out vital work in reusing, recycling and composting waste. Most of the four million pounds funding from the Department for the Environment Food and Agriculture will be used to help organisations develop partnerships with local authorities and share their expertise.DEFRA says many services that are now widespread, such as kerbside collection of material for recycling, were pioneered by the community sector. It is also involved in projects including the collection of unwanted furniture for distribution to low income families and community composting schemes.

Environment Minister, Elliot Morley, said the community sector had been a ‘major player’ in the municipal waste scene. “Community waste projects now provide kerbside recycling services to more than two million homes, and have created thousands of jobs over the past 10 years, as well as many training and volunteering opportunities for people who find it difficult to find work,” he said.

The new funding will be divided into three strands. There will be a task force to champion the sector in the long-term and identify the barriers stopping its development. A pilot scheme will be created to fund regional co-ordinators in four regions – Yorkshire and Humberside, the South West, the North West and Eastern England – to raise awareness in local and regional government of activities in the voluntary sector and to spread best practice. Three-quarters of the money, though, will go to help develop meaningful partnerships with local government. This money will be available through a bidding process to be launched next month.

The UK community waste and recycling sector is made up of more than 850 organisations, many of them linked by three main umbrella groups, the Community Composting Network, the Community Recycling Network and the Furniture Reuse Network.