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Page last updated at 15:07 GMT, Tuesday, 14 December 2010
Recycling Conwy kitchens means more jobs and less waste

Business manager Rod Williams at Crest's community store
Crest are responsible for the purple textile recycling bags in Conwy

Nearly 4,000 old kitchens and bathrooms will be saved from landfill by an award-winning Conwy partnership.

Instead of taking a sledgehammer to fixtures and fittings when they need updating, housing association Cartrefi Conwy will be making better use of them.

Their partnership with contractors G Purchase Construction and recycling social enterprise, Crest Co-operative, has been hailed as an example to others by both the Wales Recycling and the UK Waste Initiative Awards.

Central to the awards was the work of Crest, a not-for-profit company which aims to provide work opportunities for socially excluded people by way of environmentally-friendly projects.

Around 90% of the old fittings being removed in a £30 million housing improvement programme will either be sold on at Crest's community store in Llandudno Junction, or sold as scrap metal, kindling for woodburners or tiles for mosaics.

Crest's business development manager Rod Williams said: "The first thing we look to do is re-use before we recycle, as it leaves less of a carbon footprint.

When we checked Welsh Assembly Government guidelines we discovered we were achieving their targets 10 years early

Andrew Bowden, Cartrefi Conwy

"People love buying old worktops for their sheds, or if they can't afford a brand new kitchen. And this helps create income to sustain us.

"Crest is the first of its kind in the UK and we're having calls from all over from people who want to know how we do things."

Crest has a full-time core team of 22 staff and forms partnerships with various organisations to provide work experience opportunities for the long-term unemployed.

It also works with social services to offer work placements for people with learning disabilities.

"We're also partners with the probation service who give us clients on community payback orders," added Rod Williams.

"We then get them working on the vans or in the community store: doing actual work which benefits the community and they gain valuable experience to make them more employable."

Two Crest workers removing bath out of house
The partnership could create over 200 jobs and training opportunities

The social enterprise was formed in 1998 with the help of one of the first National Lottery grants. It is now self-sustaining and has been asked to look into extending its services to Gwynedd and Denbighshire.

Cartrefi Conwy chief executive Andrew Bowden said of their recent awards: "The judges were impressed with the innovation around the recycling and particularly the reusing of materials.

"Linked to that is the creation of work placements and permanent jobs which is the extra value that the judges have seen this partnership achieving.

"When we checked the guidelines with the Welsh Assembly Government we discovered we were achieving their targets 10 years early, which is quite incredible.

"It may be a mundane task or something that we should be doing to protect the environment, but in doing so we are transforming the lives of those people gaining work opportunities."


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