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NRAs 2018: Local authority innovation

WINNER: Brighton & Hove City Council with Freegle



The Kings House project in Brighton ran from January 2016 to May 2017, and involved emptying the city’s largest office block of 1,000 staff, along with all their furniture and equipment. Brighton & Hove council contracted local expert Cat Fletcher of Freegle to be the reuse manager for the council – a role that does not exist in any other local authority.

The council’s ambitions with the project were to:

  • Maximise reuse by keeping goods in circulation, support partner organisations, charities, businesses and communities, both local and international.
  • Change staff behaviour before the move to reduce the total amount of goods presented as waste, and change consumption patterns by demonstrating reuse opportunities to city-wide organisations and citizens.
  • Create a cheap, simple and non-bureaucratic model for supporting other organisations in the city by offering them surplus assets.
  • Save money for public sector departments such as schools, health organisations, and property and design services.
  • Support the resilience of community groups and charities, fostering goodwill between the local authority and these other local sectors and organisations.
  • Develop a legacy for the city by increasing capacity, knowledge, and a shift towards the culture of reuse.

local authority innovation

local authority innovation

Fletcher audited the contents of the building, identifying, assessing and cataloguing all unwanted goods which were then prepared for reuse. Distribution was managed via online and real-life networks, with reuse being prioritised in order of the council, local public services, charities, community groups, businesses and residents, and then international reuse outlets. The council also joined the WARPit network.

JUDGES’ COMMENT: “This approach emphasised the importance of reuse, and leads by example. It is driving waste up the hierarchy and could be replicated by others.”

The project led to more than 150 tonnes of material being reused and the council rationalised its office accommodation, reducing its carbon footprint by 20% and contributing to revenue savings of £2m. It has created a proven reuse business model for future projects that includes a centralised decluttering and reuse service for council departments.


  • Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service
  • Hackney Council
  • Perth & Kinross Council
  • Resource Efficiency Wales
  • South Staffordshire Council
  • Torfaen County Borough Council

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