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Community groups quadruple the amount of waste put to good use

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Community groups across Mid Devon and Teignbridge have quadrupled the amount of waste they have put to beneficial use over the last year despite three lockdowns.

Community Action Groups Devon (CAG Devon) comprises of 20 groups and is part of the community support network, funded by Devon County Council and run by environmental consultancy Resource Futures.

Through projects including repair cafes, community fridges, food surplus cafes, tree planting initiatives, composting, refill campaigns and clothes swishes, their aim is to minimise waste, tackle carbon emissions and build more sustainable and resilient communities.

And in the last year volunteers spent 5,746 hours of their own time which resulted in an almost four-fold increase in ‘avoided’ carbon emissions from 18.54 to 60.2 tonnes,

Additionally, they prevented 16.62 tonnes of waste being produced, up from 4.86 tonnes the previous year, and diverted ten tonnes of waste from being sent for disposal, up from 2.72 tonnes.

Despite the pandemic CAG Devon Group members rose to the challenge, adapting their activities to support their communities in different ways from helping them repair broken items, to launching community fridges and switching to click and collect or takeaway services.

New community initiatives included:

  • Sustainable Bradninch, Teign Valley Larder and Uffculme Green Team launched new community fridges / larders.
  • Tiverton Tree Team developed a seed nursery scheme, providing advice online encouraging families to grow their own trees from acorns and hazel nuts, ready to plant out next Autumn.
  • Blackdown Hills Repair Café launched a Click and Collect repair service, repairing 428 items weighing approximately 1000Kgs and achieved a repair rate of 92%.
  • ReRooted launched a surplus food takeaway service whilst unable to offer its usual monthly surplus café and prevented 4.3 tonnes of food going to waste.
  • Teign Valley Larder set up five community larder points in the valley in its first year of operations, preventing 1.4 tonnes of food waste. They also ran a children’s clothes swap shop.
  • Dawlish Against Plastic set up a Beach Clean Club, long-loaning litter picking equipment for solo/socially distanced litter picks.

Councillor Roger Croad, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Communities

Photo of Councillor Roger Croad
Councillor Roger Croad

and Equality at Devon County Council, said: “I want to congratulate the volunteers for their hard work, they have made such a difference.

“The day-to-day collection and management of household waste and recycling is a vital service delivered by councils across Devon and the work voluntary groups do help communities to reduce waste and carbon emissions, and to become better connected and more resilient.

“Devon County Council supports community groups to take action in their own communities and I’m pleased to see the continued positive impact the CAG Devon project is having, even during a global pandemic.”

Kate Yeo from Sustainable Bishop Community Group said: “Being part of the CAG Devon project has helped our community organisation to grow and develop, sharing and learning new skills with other similarly minded groups. But we also have the peace of mind of knowing the CAG Devon project team are there if we need help or advice, which has been invaluable especially through such challenging times.

“This is a fantastic achievement from our network and it’s thanks to the hard work of all the volunteers giving their time and enthusiasm freely,” said Helen Vines, CAG Devon Project Manager. “Having piloted our first CAG project more than 20 years ago in Oxford, we know that supporting communities is vital if we are to tackle the scourge of waste and respond to the climate emergency that we are faced with.”

To find out more about the CAG Devon project and the groups involved visit