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FMs welcome recycling network

02 November 2011

A growing number of local authorities, universities, charities and businesses are joining a new international resource distribution network which has already saved its customers hundreds of thousands of pounds and radically improved their green credentials.

Online service was launched just three months ago to glowing reviews from organisations keen to find a quick and easy way to re-use, recycle or loan unwanted equipment within their own business or with others further afield.

WARP-it is the brainchild of professional waste management officer Daniel O’Connor, whose career has included roles within a number of local authorities. O’Connor was inspired to develop the new network after witnessing the vast quantities of useable items of furniture and equipment that are regularly consigned to the skip by employees of large organisations.

Applying the principles of websites such as ebay and Freecycle, he designed an internal web-based system allowing users to donate, sell and rent unwanted items inside their own organisation – saving money on new purchases, freeing up space, avoiding carbon emissions and diverting waste from landfill.

If items are not required within the organisation that owns them WARP-it makes it very easy for them to ‘friend’ local, national and international partners, including schools, charities and start-up businesses and pass them on for their use. The system is useful with any unwanted resource but is particularly powerful with furniture, electrical items, fixtures and fittings and specialist items such as engineering, medical research and lab equipment.

WARP-it’s first customers have already saved a combined £63,000 through avoided waste disposal and procurement costs, diverted 7,500KG of waste from landfill and made carbon savings of 45,000KG and are recouping their investment in the subscription service in a matter of days.

O’Connor said: “WARP-it is a sustainable procurement tool in so far as it makes it really easy for staff in organisations to find out who else in the organisation has surplus resources – meaning they don’t have to buy new, saving money and carbon. It is also a zero waste tool in that it makes it easy for staff with surplus items to find new homes either within the organisation or within partner organisations.

“The collaboration between organisations is the really exciting part. The WARPit network enables resources to be transferred legally and safely from areas where they are not needed to somewhere where they are. That might be in the same organisation - or it could be to an organisation carrying out similar activities locally such as universities, councils, hospitals, SMEs charities or schools.

“And because of the reciprocal sharing nature of the social network – users feel that they can declutter and give away or loan resources they would usually keep because they know they will be able to get the same resource back later when they need it. Users learn that what goes around comes around - quite literally.

“People embrace this co operative collaboration behaviour to be more efficient but also much more connected with their colleagues within the organisation and with partner organisations. This will have great potential to improve work between organisations.”

North East entrepreneur Daniel worked with Newcastle Science City’s business support team, to develop and launch his business. Using the organisation’s unique networks, experience and sector knowledge, the team has helped WARP-it bypass the early pitfalls associated with launching new products and services.

Simon Green, Newcastle Science City programme manager, said: “WARP-it is a perfect example of the exciting and innovative companies we are helping to nurture and grow in Newcastle, making best use of the city’s scientific strength in the area of sustainability.

“Daniel’s concept has all the hallmarks of a successful, high-growth business. It’s a simple idea that is being well executed and we’ll be working closely with him to ensure the company fulfils its potential.”

Newcastle Science City is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government, securing £2.3million of ERDF investment. The ERDF Competitiveness Programme 2007-2013 is bringing over £300m into the North East to support innovation, enterprise and business support across the region.

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