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Feature: Power to the people

According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), community projects now provide kerbside recycling services to more than two million UK households. With up to 1,000 organisations working in the sector, the growth in community-based bodies focused on tackling waste minimisation has been enabled by government policy and funding.

Local community initiatives expand the efforts of local authorities' statutory obligations. By working in three-way partnerships, local authorities, community groups and contractors bring more households and people into the recycling fold, especially those in more deprived areas.

But the community group commitment counts for little if the essential lubricant of funding is lacking. Government is the central bank. Defra has announced £3 million to 36 community groups in England. Of the 36 winners chosen from more than 600 applications, around one-third is developing kerbside collection services for dry recyclables as well as kitchen and green waste. Funds allocated ranged from £8,000 to nearly £300,000.

Verdant's part in the Cleanstream community-based project on the island of Anglesey could not have happened without government funding. The £550,000 awarded by the EU Objective 1 programme administered by the Welsh Assembly brought recycling to an initial 10,000 households that had not been involved before.

The firm is helping drive social inclusion among deprived areas around Holyhead as part of the effort to improve the island's recycling record.

With collections running at close to 20 tonnes a week, the scheme was recently expanded to cover nearly 11,000 households, helping lift Anglesey's current recycling performance to 15% (from just 2% in 2002/03). Fortunately more funding has been agreed which will push project boundaries further.

You need to look for where the money is. First stop should be Defra ( or the regional assemblies ( and They have details of past or proposed funding plans, as well as guides to funding sources. Defra can also provide links to a number of community groups, or their representative bodies, with the expertise and experience to point you in the right direction.

One valuable contact is The Community Recycling Network (, the national umbrella organisation for more than 300 community-based not-for- profit and co-operative waste management groups which also has links to regional networks. Other sources are Waste Watch(, Waste and Resources in the Social Economy, the Social, Economic and Environmental Development programme, administered via which can also give access to the Community Recycling and Economic Development programme.

Community projects must have longer term sustainability. It's no good setting up a new community recycling scheme if it folds when the core money runs out. Cleanstream will be sustainable when core funding ceases after two years because we will have set revenue streams such as sales of recyclable materials and landfill tax c

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