London street cleaner uniforms are being turned into teddy bears and clothes in a March workshop

Reform - a project in March that is turning old uniforms into clothing and teddy bears

Reform - a project in March that is turning old uniforms into clothing and teddy bears - Credit: Archant

Old uniforms are being turned into new clothes and teddy bears thanks to a project that is set to upcycle thousands of second hand items from London street cleaners.

The March-based project, called Re:Form, will recycle 10 tonnes of used personal protective equipment from Veolia’s London contracts in its first year, with potential to take in more corporate clothing nationally as the scheme evolves.

The creative project is thanks to Veolia teaming up with national charity, Reuseful UK.

Nikki DiGiovanni, chief executive at Reuseful UK said: “It is amazing, where others see waste, scrapstores see opportunities to be creative and resourceful.

“Not only do we repurpose these uniforms we are giving local people a sense of purpose by helping them find the confidence and gain the skills needed to gain employment.

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“Sarah Hall is Reuseful UK’s Re:Form project manager, it is her enthusiasm that inspires our small team of staff and volunteers to work wonders with waste.”

Patricia Watson, who manages the project at Veolia, said: “Our old uniform is such a mixture of materials, in various states of cleanliness and disrepair, the traditional recycling markets simply couldn’t deal with it.

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“We’re delighted to be part of such an innovative solution which not only diverts waste from landfill and energy recovery, but more importantly, helps support the local community and people into work.

“I look forward to helping the scheme grow to expand these incredible social and environmental benefits.”

The upcycling happens in a March where some of the 200 donated sweaters are being used to make teddy bears which will be sold or go into Rainbow Boxes - a subsidiary project, bringing comfort to terminally ill children.

Apron kits have been made from the trousers and even the t-shirts get made into yarn.

More than 100 people seeking employment have been involved with the project since it started at the beginning of 2016, helping to sort, upcycle and resell the donated items.

Re:Form partners with the Cambridgeshire Community Reuse and Recycling Network and is funded by Greater Cambridge and Greater Peterborough LEP and Veolia.

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