Tate’s Reuse Revolution

 With Tate now hitting an average of 72% recycling levels, we want to ensure that we can push these figures even higher and reduce our overall waste levels.

One of our aims is to find out what we are currently throwing away and think about how we can avoid waste in the first place.  We could all probably reduce our overall waste levels by printing less, using a mug rather than a disposal cup when we buy a coffee, or removing our under desk bins, but what happens to the out of date furniture and old branded uniforms?

This year we have decided to enter for a Green Apple, which is an environmental award established in 1994 and considered to be one of the most popular environmental campaigns in the world. It’s an annual ceremony held in the Houses of Commons, awarding establishments that recognise and promote best practice sustainability within their working environment.  We want to make a positive impact on the environment and really encourage the Reduce & Reuse Revolution, striving to improve our overall sustainability awareness.   It would be great to win a Green Apple and make staff and our visitors proud of our success.  So let’s keep our fingers crossed that we may be the first gallery to win such an award.

Some positive steps so far have been to reuse what would have potentially been placed in the skip.  The reality is that when furniture is placed into a skip very little if any is ever reused.  Once in a skip the majority of items are damaged and broken and any waste management company will charge a landfill/incineration disposal cost, over £400 per skip! They may retrieve a little bit of good quality wood and some metal but 80%-90% will be incinerated.


Tate rubbish binsWe recently had a large volume of furniture; eighty chairs and several tables which were destined for incineration.  Instead we advertised it on the Tatenet and we were overwhelmed by how many staff wanted further details.  We had a good mix of interest; some who were just moving and had no furniture, someone else is even completing an upholstery course and wanted to try their new skills on the chairs. The remaining few were taken by Camden Council for a small library.  By doing this we managed to make a lot of staff happy as well as benefit the local community. This hassaved us potentially £1000 and will contribute towards our general waste figures.

Bywaters giveaways

Our hessian coffee sacks have also been a great ‘reuse’ success;, for the last three months all bags have been completely diverted from general waste.  The sacks have been distributed to community projects, which have been using the Clore Studios at Tate Britain and making a cape which will feature as part of a dress. They have also been popular among staff within Tate; someone even wants to use them for a forthcoming wedding! And Tate Liverpool is making cushions to go with their garden furniture.

We are really looking forward to achieving some fantastic goals and hope to stand out as not only a great gallery recognized all over the world, but one that also cares for the environment.

Kindly written by Bella Sereno, Resource Manager for Tate