Leeds: Team has a brush with recycling milestone

Seagulls social enterprise based at Aire Place Mills.
Seagulls social enterprise based at Aire Place Mills.
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A social enterprise has put the gloss on its recycling business by managing to collect a staggering 220 tonnes of paint from Leeds’s household waste sites in just 12 months.

Seagulls collects partially used tins of paint left at the waste sites. The paint is then remixed and resold at low prices at the organisation’s premises in Aire Place Mills, on Kirkstall Road.

The not-for-profit recycling organisation has been picking up paint pots from the council’s nine household waste sites since March 2010.

And the founders of the social enterprise – Cat Pearson and Kate Moree – hope to put even more unwanted but perfectly usable paint to good use after having their council contract extended.

Since the contract started, Seagulls has created four new jobs and now employs 10 people, as well as working with around 20 volunteers.

The team is kept busy, with 4,500 customers going through their doors in 2011 to buy 110 tonnes of leftover paint.

The recycling operation reduces the amount of paint dumped in landfill and estimates that every tonne of paint reused cuts carbon dioxide emissions by 2.6 tonnes.

Coun Mark Dobson, executive member for the environment, said: “Seagulls offer a unique reuse service that we are delighted to support.

“Unused paint has to be disposed of safely so it’s far better to reuse it – it’s better for the environment and helps us achieve our recycling targets.

“But it’s the ethos behind Seagulls that really makes them stand out. Not only are the team helping us reduce the city’s impact on the environment, they are providing a product at an affordable price while supporting jobs and encouraging volunteers.”

Cat Pearson said: “Our continuing partnership with Leeds City Council puts our social business on an even stronger footing. With a regular supply from the council’s sites, we can go on meeting the growing demand for affordable paint.”

Some of the paint collected cannot be reused and needs specialist disposal. The team is currently looking for sponsors to help with disposal costs.


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