Zero Waste Village Vision faces final hurdle…

Forest Row community fights for its Recycling Centre!

On Thursday October 14th, East Sussex County Council will decide the fate of a three-year campaign to bring back Forest Row’s community recycling centre. The visionary proposal includes not only a recycling depot for numerous household waste lines, but also a charity-cum-swap shop, stocked with items too good for landfill, as well as opportunities for upcycling and repair.

Will the council allow the Forest Row community to pioneer a Zero Waste economy and become a model village for others in the UK? Or will they sell the site to a higher commercial bidder?

**PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: The local community will gather on the village green on Friday 1st October at 5pm, and process up to the tip site, to demonstrate the widespread support for the recycling centre. Expect creative outfits, witty banners and artistic displays of waste!**

Until 2018, Forest Row enjoyed its own waste and recycling site. With a popular second-hand shop for passing on used items to others, it was more than just a tip – it was a social hub for people of all ages in the village and beyond, creating employment and training opportunities and providing plenty of in person connection. It was such an important part of village life that when surveyed about its possible return, the people of Forest Row were unanimous that it should be brought back to life. Indeed, in a 2020 consultation, 82% of respondents declared they were willing to both pay for and give time to this site.

Green District Councillor Patricia Patterson-Vanegas says: “It has been incredible to witness the local support for this pioneering project. No matter what age, what political party, what religious beliefs, the great majority of our residents agrees this recycling centre is an essential part of Forest Row life, and they want it back.”

The original site is now for sale. Forest Row Parish Council has acquired a loan to bid for the site, which would then be leased to the community interest company to run the centre.

What are the benefits of the Recycling Centre?

Reopening this recycling centre would save 12,960kg (14 tonnes) carbon dioxide emissions through fuel use, provide at least 2 jobs plus apprenticeships and counter social isolation. But above all, the recycling centre provides a smart solution to the problem of waste – one of the major global challenges of our time. The earth simply cannot sustain our waste. We are polluting air, soil, oceans and groundwater. We already push 75 percent above what the Earth can sustain in the long run, and this number keeps going up. We have no real choice but to turn away from the inefficient linear model of “take, make, use and throw”, towards a cyclical zero-waste model of repurpose and reuse. This aim is already stated in The Resources and Waste Strategy for England (2018) and East Sussex Environment Strategy (2020), and yet little progress has been made. The Forest Row Recycling Centre should be heralded as an essential element of this vital strategy, helping government and local council achieve their objectives and inspiring many more towns and villages to take control of their own waste. Instead, it waivers precariously on a knife edge…