A reuse zone in Neuchatel’s waste centres

The inter-communal waste management centre of La Croix (Cortaillod) initiated a recycling space that supports the re-use of objects which are still in a good condition but which would otherwise go to waste. Caroline Métais, who was the creator of this space, believes that this concept can bring about advantages to all waste management centres.

Susceptible to the growing problems of waste, Caroline came up with the idea to develop a space where new life could be given to reusable objects which would otherwise end up being recycled or incinerated despite still being in good condition. With the help of Lucien Wuillemin (La Chaussure Rouge) Caroline was introduced to Emmanuel Maître, the director of Vadec the company that collects and treats waste in the canton of Neuchatel.

Whether by coincidence or luck, the management of Vadec had already been considering a similar project and Caroline’s plan brought the project to reality, with the logistic help of Emmaüs Récup, who have a staff of volunteers and who organise a weekly collection of large objects. Caroline, mother of two children, invested her time, several hours per month, to bring together the people who would carry out the project, attend meetings and support the beginning of the project.

Managed by Vadec, the waste disposal centre of La Croix (open to residents of the communes Cortaillod, Boudry, Brot-Dessous and Milvignes) was chosen as the pilot centre for the project. At first, only a small container space was available, but following a reorganisation of the centre, a space entirely dedicated to reuse was drawn into the plans.

In very little time, Emmaüs Récup had collected several tons of objects for re-sale, often in next to new condition, including flat screen TVs, furniture, bread machines, games and more.

For Vadec, the project impacts a very small volume of the waste they treat, and they feel that the system can benefit society. “We are very active in the whole chain of waste management. When an object is thrown away, it is not necessarily waste, but can be given a second life. Vadec’s mission, which is in the public’s interest, is to find a sustainable solution to the problems created in a linear waste cycle. Our priority is to reuse objects wherever possible, followed by recycling the material, and in a last stage to create energy via incineration which can be used as electricity for 20’000 residents in the region”.

Reusing objects only impacts a few tons of the 150’000 tons of waste that Vadec sort and treat each year, and even these will eventually end by being recycled or incinerated. All the more reason to try and give new life to these objects keep using them as long as they are in good condition and keep from using new raw materials to create new items.

In Switzerland alone 6 million tons of urban waste are generated each year of which 1.6 million tons are household waste. The effect of reusing and repairing objects is not negligible and has an impressive economic impact – less waste processing means lower costs to residents, and this system can also create jobs. According to Zero Waste France, where 10’000 tons of waste creates 3 full time jobs for incineration, sorting waste creates 31 jobs and repair/reuse creates 690 jobs!

Incorporating the idea of reusing objects in the waste management system has the potential to make an economic impact, to create jobs and preserve resources. This idea is of growing interest in the waste management industry, as it has been implemented in all waste disposal centres in Neuchatel.

Inter-communal waste management centre of La Croix (DILAC) on the website of the commune of Cortaillod (NE) :

Video RTS – broadcast “Couleurs locales”, 19.09.2016 :
« NE: Emmaüs s’est installé directement dans la déchetterie de Cortaillod »

Author: David Vieille, ambassador of ZeroWaste Switzerland for the Bernese Jura