Recycling and recovery

Surf’s up: SUEZ and Cornwall Council collaborate with The Wave Project

SUEZ recycling and recovery UK and Cornwall Council today launch a new initiative to give pre-loved wetsuits and neoprene items a second life with Cornwall based social enterprise, The Wave Project, at St Erth and Newquay household waste and recycling centres (HWRCs).

SUEZ, Cornwall Council and The Wave Project are making waves with their partnership to trial collecting pre-loved and damaged wetsuits at two of Cornwall’s household waste and recycling centres (HWRCs) in St Erth and Newquay. Dedicated bins are in place ready to collect a swell of neoprene items which will be taken to The Wave Project’s HQ in Newquay. These items will then be carefully cleaned and repaired before being sold at affordable prices at their shop on Newquay high street. If successful, the trial will be expanded across Cornwall’s recycling centres and will provide helpful guidance to allow other areas to follow in Cornwall’s footsteps and set up their own schemes for pre-loved wetsuits.

It’s estimated that on average 380 tonnes of wetsuits are thrown away and end up in energy recovery or landfill in the UK each year – this is roughly the equivalent weight of 50 Minke Whales. As a global population, we are currently consuming three planet’s worth of resources - we need to rethink our relationship with material things and do more than just recycle.

Everything we consume has an impact on our environment, so to conserve the earth’s natural resources, we need to consume less overall. We also need to think about repairing and reusing items instead of replacing them, to unlock the huge potential in so many of the things we throw away.

This collaboration with The Wave Project will help in reducing Cornwall’s waste and raise funds for a local enterprise. The Wave Project is helping turn the tide on the children’s mental health crisis by running surf clubs and therapy sessions. Surf therapy especially has become an established form of therapeutic support for both mental and physical health. It is now recognised by the NHS in the UK and is used by the Police and Blue Light services as therapy for their serving officers and professionals.

In 2022 alone, over 1.4 million children were referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) across the UK. To support this increasingly high figure, in 2022 The Wave Project supported 2,000 young people experiencing anxiety or trauma and helped them rebuild their self-confidence and improve their outlook on life. In an impact survey, roughly 15% of surf therapy students said taking part in the sessions increased their confidence, and over 11% said it increased their calmness and resilience.

Chris Lynn, General Manager for SUEZ recycling and recovery UK in Cornwall said: “Through this collaboration, we are not only helping to reduce waste, but we are also supporting Cornwall’s young people. At SUEZ, as part of our triple bottom line approach, we look for ways our services can enhance the environment and the communities we serve. We are thrilled to have seas-ed the opportunity to work with The Wave Project in their mission to transform lives through surf therapy”.

Joe Taylor, Founder & CEO for The Wave Project said: “We are super excited to be working on this innovative project with SUEZ and Cornwall Council. It is a great example of partnership working across all three sectors leading to positive benefits for people and planet. We would encourage local surfers to make use of the wetsuit donation bins at the St Erth and Newquay recycling centres so we can enable them to be used again by others, reducing tonnes of waste in the process. By working together, we can all make a big difference for our communities, reduce our carbon footprint, and bring the joy of surfing to more people.”

Councillor Carol Mould, Cornwall Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhoods said “This is a great initiative to support our residents in increasing their recycling, reducing waste and supporting a thriving and sustainable Cornwall. We’re pleased to be able to help The Wave Project and the young people it supports through this new scheme.”