Cork’s inaugural Reuse Republic event

Cork County Mayor Declan Hurley pictured with the exhibitors at the Reuse Republic at County Hall, Cork Monday 23rd October - a collaboration for reuse month by Cork County Council and SMILE Resource Exchange. Picture: Miki Barlok

Reuse Republic, the first event of its kind to be held at Cork County Hall, on Monday 23rd October last, was a veritable celebration of reuse, re-imagination and creativity, signalling a very definite turn in Cork’s approach to ‘waste’.

A collaboration between the SMILE Resource Exchange and Cork County Council, Reuse Republic was a public event that brought together some of Cork’s best upcyclers, reuse initiatives and eco businesses. With an underlying message of Rethink Your Waste, Reuse Republic aimed to showcase just a snapshot of the businesses, support organisations and community initiatives, working in the reuse sector locally.

Exhibitors included quirky yet luxurious luggage, bags and accessories from Mamukko, a Kinsale based company that upcycles sailcloth and tarpaulin; exhibited insulation products made from recycled newspaper; IRD Duhallow Revamp project and Macroom Men’s Shed showed off their upcycled furniture, bird boxes and cribs; Food Cloud explained how their surplus food redistribution network operates; the Circular Ocean project presented a colourful display of products from around the work, made out of waste marine plastics; Boomerang Enterprises showed how they dismantle and recycle post-consumer mattresses; Stop Food Waste gave some handy hints and tips for householders to reduce their food bills and waste; Green Business explained how they assist organisations to run more efficiently, reducing their waste, water and energy use; Community Reuse Network advised how they support reuse initiatives nationally; the Southern Waste Region were on hand as the public body with responsibility for meeting waste management objectives; Dress for Success Cork held a collection of gently worn, office appropriate clothing which they will pass on to clients entering or re-entering the workforce.

SMILE Resource Exchange is a national programme that connects businesses that can reuse each other’s waste, surplus materials and offcuts. Established in 2010 by Macroom E Enterprise Centre, with the support of Cork County and City Councils, the Local Enterprise Offices and the Environmental Protection Agency, the programme now has over 1,500 business members nationally, over 500 successful synergies recorded to date, equating to an estimated 22,000 tonnes of material diverted from landfill or recycling and a combined cost saving for businesses of over €4.4 million.

In recognition of its success, SMILE has recently been nominated as a finalist for the Pakman Waste Prevention Business Award run by Repak.  This year’s awards ceremony, due to take place in Dublin later this month, will see 300 representatives from leading businesses, organisations and community groups from all corners of Ireland convene to recognise excellence in recycling, energy and waste management.

Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Declan Hurley officiated at the event and is keen to show how Cork as a county wants to be a cleaner and greener place to live and work, this event showcases just some of the creative projects ongoing in Cork at present, helping to make the circular economy model a reality.

Reuse Republic is one of a series of events and campaigns taking place during October Reuse Month, a national initiative aimed at promoting reuse and repair. This exhibition was a lively, colourful mix of commercial reuse opportunities, support organisations and community focused initiatives in Cork.

Chief Executive of Cork County Council Tim Lucey warmly welcomes initiatives such as Reuse Republic commenting, It is increasingly evident that businesses need to look towards sustainable design to compete in today’s market. Cork County Council is proud to support the SMILE Resource Exchange in assisting businesses find that edge and make both economic and environmental savings.

SMILE is supported by the Environmental Protection Agency, Cork County Council, Cork City Council, Local Enterprise Offices, Southern Region Waste Management Office, Eastern Midlands Waste Management Office, Connacht Ulster Waste Management Office and South Dublin County Council.

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