Innovation Exchange

Maximising the Re-use of Bulky Waste


Key activities

Benefits and impacts


Further Information

North Ayrshire Council has developed an innovative agreement with Cunninghame Furniture Recycling Company to collect and redistribute unwanted furniture and white goods from landfill, assisting low income families to furnish their homes, and create training and employment opportunities for unemployed residents.


This new service moves waste material along the waste hierarchy and feeds into the circular economy. It is built around North Ayrshire Council’s Waste Strategy 2012-2016, which is one of the first to develop a reuse target, as well as the Scottish Government’s Zero Waste Plan Targets and the obligations of The Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012.


The project operates a free of charge donation collection system, collecting over 360 tonnes of furniture from more than 2500 collections. It has already successfully re-used, recycled or holds in stock more than 90% of furniture items donated. It has also sold in excess of 5,700 items of furniture and white goods, assisting around 2850 low income families to furnish their homes on a budget, and generated almost £190,000 of income from sales of furniture and recycled goods.

Theme: Partnership and Collaboration

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  • The Council with advisory support from Zero Waste Scotland carried out a study to identify what the potential tonnage and capacity was available to divert additional bulky waste from landfill across North Ayrshire;

  • The results of the study identified that there was significant potential for additional bulky waste to be diverted from landfill for reuse and the Council incorporated a reuse target and reuse actions within the Waste Management Strategy 2012 – 2016;

  • The Council applied to Zero Waste Scotland for further support to deliver the project and were successful in receiving advisory support to develop and contract specification and tender documents;

  • A number of meetings and workshops were then held with both internal and external stakeholders to develop the contract specification and gauge market interest;

  • Consultation with internal and external stakeholders helped inform the preferred contract structure, specification and the key deliverables that were required to maximise the overall benefit to the Council and the residents of North Ayrshire and to ensure the resulting project would be sustainable;

  • A procurement exercise was then carried out which included a Bidders Information Day to clarify any questions regarding the required outcomes in the specification and also to provide an opportunity for interested potential partners (waste management companies and 3rd sector organisations) to meet, explore opportunities and overcome any barriers to partnership working;

  • The tenders were then submitted and evaluated and the contract for delivery of the bulky reuse project was awarded to Cunninghame Furniture Recycling Company (CFRC); and

  • A number of workshops took place during contract implementation to establish the reuse referral process within the Council’s contact centre and website, and also to implement reuse cabins within the Council’s HWRCs. These workshops were critical in identifying reuse opportunities and ensuring the processes used maximised the potential for the reuse of bulky waste.

The main benefits of the project include:


  • employment and training opportunities for unemployed residents;
  • drawing good quality, repairable and re-usable goods from the waste stream through the use of bulky waste collections;
  • enabling HWRCs to save re-usable material from being landfilled;
  • extending the life of goods; and
  • helping residents on low incomes derive value for money from limited resources by providing furniture at a discounted price.


During 2015/16 the project received a total of 1,134 donations within North Ayrshire and made 157 collections which equates to the diversion of 94 tonnes of bulky household waste from landfill. The project has provided 16 training and employment opportunities for the residents of North Ayrshire during this period.


The project was awarded the Best Partnership Initiative category at the Scottish Resources Awards 2014 and was awarded the prestigious Gold award at the COSLA Excellence Awards 2015 for Strong and Sustainable Communities.

The main lessons learned include:


  • Involving all internal and external stakeholders in the project and contract specification helped maximise the overall social, financial and environmental benefits to the communities of North Ayrshire from the project; and

  • Through consulting with the 3rd sector prior to carrying out the procurement exercise we learned that the reuse model that the Council thought would work best was not shared with our potential 3rd sector partners. This helped shape the project and contract specification to ensure the resulting solution being offered was going to be palatable to bidders and also sustainable in the long-term.

Our Waste Strategy can be downloaded from:


The Cunninghame Furniture Recycling web site can be found at:


A video showing how the project operates can be viewed at:


Contact details:

To find out more about this case study, please contact:


David Mackay

Senior Manager Waste Resources (Strategy and Contracts)

North Ayrshire Council

01294 541525

Case study added to site: June 2016

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