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29 July 2022

All the commode-tion has big results

A pilot project which makes it easier to return daily living aids has exceeded expectations, resulting in over 500 items (3 tonnes) of equipment returned in just three months. By reusing these aids rather than buying replacements, the new service is also having an environmental benefit, saving an estimated 5.6 tonnes of CO2 equivalent, thereby helping the climate too.

Cumbria County Council's Community Equipment Service provides free equipment across the county, supporting people to carry out normal daily tasks such as having a shower or getting into the bath. This means they can stay independent in their own homes. However, the service desperately needs returns of equipment no longer in use.

People may have forgotten about no longer needed equipment, or do not know what to do with it, either way they can now free up some space by returning it easily and conveniently to a local Household Waste Recycling Centre under a pilot scheme established in March with Renewi UK Services Limited and Cumbria Waste Management. The Community Equipment Service collects the equipment and professionally cleans and services it ready for reuse by others in need.

As part of the pilot project two week-long take-back events have also taken place with the Kendal library take-back collecting over 40 items and a second at Barrow library collecting over 80 items.

Councillor Celia Tibble, Cumbria County Council Cabinet Member for Environment, said:

“This is an excellent new service. By setting aside this equipment for cleaning and immediate reuse, we reduce the energy and transport miles required to get these resources back into circulation.

“I encourage anyone who has aids for daily living they no longer require to take them to their nearest Household Waste Recycling Centre or to look out for the next take-back event. And a big ‘thank you’ to all those who have returned equipment so far” 

Waste management contractor Renewi and its sub-contractor Cumbria Waste Management who operate the Household Waste Recycling Centres have been pleased to be involved in the pilot project.

Nick Blake, Renewi Contract Director, Cumbria commented:

“Our aim is to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible and this excellent new service does just that. Instead of placing aids for daily living in the recycling containers for melting down to be made into new materials, we’re now setting aside this equipment for cleaning and immediate reuse. This not only speeds up the return of equipment to people in need, but additionally improves our environmental performance. It is important that previously used materials aren’t wasted and that we all act in a more sustainable way. The positive participation of Cumbria Waste Management, whose HWRC staff have been separating the equipment on the sites, has also been key to the success of the pilot so far - we’re pleased to be involved in this excellent project.”

Richard Foster, Libraries and Archives Manageradded:

“The convenient central location of many of our libraries has allowed us to offer a convenient alternative reception point for returns. Bringing local people to the library is a real plus for us and it’s a great initiative as well. We’re keen to support additional take-back events as the pilot continues.”

Given the success of the first few weeks, the pilot project will be reviewed again at the end of August when it is hoped that many more people will have benefitted either from having a clear-out or from receiving some aids for daily living that they desperately need.

Kate Vernon, Service Manager for the Community Equipment Service said:

“People across the country are facing shortages of the essential equipment they need to stay as active and independent as possible. By creating an easy way for people to return equipment that is no longer needed such as commodes, shower stools and over-bed tables, in a good, clean condition we will be able to help many more people continue to live in their own homes.”

Walking aids should still be returned to your local hospital. Details of how to do this can be found here.

A pilot project which makes it easier to return daily living aids has exceeded expectations, resulting in over 500 items (3 tonnes) of equipment returned in just three months.