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Good Growth Fund Helps The Wave Project And SUEZ Launch Pioneering Wetsuit Recycling Scheme For World Environment Day

Leading UK surf therapy charity teams up with SUEZ for unique retail solution

The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Good Growth Programme has enabled The Wave Project and waste-management company SUEZ to launch a pioneering scheme to recycle Cornwall's mountain of discarded wetsuits.

The innovative project aims to tackle the estimated 380 tonnes of non-recyclable neoprene generated each year. With over 50% of this waste originating in Cornwall, the county has become a wetsuit graveyard.

The Wetsuit Reuse Scheme has received £116,000 from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Good Growth Programme, a £137m local investment fund managed by Cornwall Council and funded by the UK Government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund. Support for local organisations is a key plank of the investment programme which encourages green and socially responsible enterprise.

Under the scheme, dedicated wetsuit recycling bins are placed at Cornwall Council household waste recycling centres, managed by SUEZ. The discarded suits are collected and transported to a brand-new repair workshop in Newquay. Here, a team will clean, and if necessary, mend the wetsuits for resale at the charity's high street store. Prices range from £20 - £60 – a fraction of the average £420 cost for a new wetsuit. Any wetsuits beyond repair will be upcycled into new products like bags, pillows and mats.

The pre-loved wetsuit scheme follows increasing urgency around solving the environmental crisis caused by fast fashion and throwaway culture. With clothing and textiles estimated to account for up to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, initiatives like this offer a blueprint for a more circular economy for specialist gear like wetsuits. If successful, The Wave Project and SUEZ hope to roll out similar programmes nationwide, preventing tonnes of non-recyclable waste from ending up in landfill or polluting the oceans.

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