Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Notice of Motion: The Bower and Reverse Garbage (11 August 2020)

 Item No:         C0820(1) Item 10

Subject:         Notice of Motion: The Bower and Reverse Garbage           

From:             Councillor Marghanita Da Cruz  





THAT Council:


1.    Notes the Sustainability Advisory Committee feedback March 2020:

◦   Stronger targets to get to zero waste

◦   Support for organics services

◦   Preference for scheduled clean-up for scavenging

◦   Greater focus on reuse and repair

◦   More local drop-offs for problem wastes


2.    Recognises the niche the Bower and Reverse Garbage make in the local reuse and repair eco-system;


3.    Notes that Inner West Council is looking into establishing a partnership with the two Not for Profit Organisation;


4.    Notes officer’s advice that COVID-19 Grants of $25,000 to each organisation from the Domestic Waste Management Reserves is not possible at this time; and


5.    Encourages the two organisations to apply for the next round of environmental grants to the amount of $10,000 in October 2020.






During the COVID-19 Lockdown Reverse Garbage and the Bower both continued to deliver their essential waste services at the Addison Road Community Centre. Both are registered charities who extend the life of manufactured goods by diverting items from the recycling and landfill streams to their repair, re-use and educational programs.


The Bower is on track to divert 500 tonnes of working, repairable and reusable tools, cables, electronics, electrical appliances, furniture, garden and building materials from landfill in 2020.The Waste Levy for 20/21 is set at $146.00 per tonne, plus tip and logistics costs this provides real savings to councils and residents. The Bower has collected 70 tonnes from the Inner West which translates to a savings of $26,600 (at $380/tonne which is the advertised tip fee at Kimbriki Resource Recovery Centre at Terrey Hills) from landfill alone leaving aside the value of the goods.

Inner West Council pays the Bower about $5,000pa to provide a free pickup service to residents. Items can also be dropped of at the Bower’s Addison Road HQ.

A Commonwealth Government commissioned report found “The market security and pricing for recyclables is strongly linked to the availability of markets back into new product, either as packaging or durable goods. There is a recognition that government and major brands have a role in procuring recycled content product in order to create the market pull for a healthy circular outcome” Recycling market situation, Sustainable Resource Use Pty Ltd report for Dept. of Environment and Energy, September 2019.

The bower runs a House to Home program under which it provides free gift vouchers to:


•     the Asylum Seeker’s Centre in Newtown to pass on to their clients;

•     Bonnies who provide support and/or accommodation to women and their children who are homeless, at risk of homelessness or escaping domestic and family violence;

•     Community Migrant Resource Centre (CMRC) provides support services to newly arrived migrants, refugees and humanitarian entrants;

•     Women’s and Girls’ Emergency Centre supporting women, children and families who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness and/or domestic and family violence;

•     Mary’s House provides a quality refuge for women and their children escaping domestic violence.


•     Parramatta Mission Community Housing provides short to medium term accommodation while you work with your support provider to find permanent housing;

•     The House of Welcome exists to welcome, shelter and empower people seeking asylum and refugees regardless of their age, gender, sexuality, nationality or religion;

•     SSI is also the lead partner of a consortium called the NSW Settlement Partnership (NSP), which comprises 22 organisations. The NSP partnership delivers settlement services across most of NSW, under the Department of Social Services’ Settlement Services Program (SSP).The SSP delivers core settlement support for humanitarian entrants and migrants in their first five years in Australia.;


•     Life Without Barriers provides care and support services to young people who are temporarily unable to live with family or foster carers, immediate and safe accommodation for people experiencing abuse or violence in their relationship and Supported Accommodation

The Bower provides free “gift vouchers” to humanitarian service organisations which pass them on to their clients asylum seekers and survivors of domestic violence to the Bower stores with a “gift certificate” to select and collect at no cost the items that suit their individual needs and preferences. The Bower will source, collect and deliver those items at no cost to the individuals.

The Bower has seen an increase in demand for their House to Home program which furnishes homes for refugees and asylum seekers and survivors of domestic violence, according to individual needs and preferences by facilitating the re-homing of household goods, furniture and appliances, and help turn a ‘house’ into a ‘home’. Since its inception in September 2016, the Bower has helped 325 families and gave away goods to the value of

$96,000. In addition to the partnerships with humanitarian organisations the Bower has also established a ‘Subsidised Goods Program’ whereby the Bower covers the entire cost to assist individuals who are neither a refugee nor a survivor of domestic violence but still need access to household goods.

In addition to the partnerships with humanitarian organisations the Bower has also established a ‘Subsidised Goods Program’ to support individuals. In 2018-19 there were 4 requests and $1,260 worth of goods was provided.

Prior to the lockdown the Bower provided placements under the work for the dole program which has been suspended. Under the program the organisations providing a placement received funding. The Bower is also working with the Australian Unemployed Workers Union to disseminate information about the alternatives, to Work for the Dole, to meet the Mutual Obligation Requirements

The Bower’s Banga electrical workshop has opened its doors at Sydney’s Green Square (City of Sydney) to provide space for people to meet, learn, and share skills. The shed houses a tool library and hosts a weekly repair café, electronic skills workshops, and testing and tagging services.

The Bower partners with City of Parramatta Council and Supporting and Linking Tradeswomen (SALT) to operate the Parramatta Women’s Shed. The Shed provides a safe and supportive space for women to learn skills such as using power tools, doing basic plumbing and carpentry.

The Bower runs Woodworks at Redfern. Woodworks is a Men’s Shed which works on reuse and repair projects using recycled materials. Many of their materials and projects are sourced from The Bower, and finished products are offered for sale at the bower’s retail outlets.

Reverse Garbage


Reverse Garbage was founded in 1974 to save materials from going to waste in landfill and to renew their value by making them available for reuse by families, students, artists and community groups. Every time a product is thrown away, all the materials and energy that went into its initial production go to waste.


Each Year Reverse Garbage accepts around 100 football fields’ worth of industrial off-cuts, over-runs, art and craft materials, stage props, knick-knacks, furniture and other odds and ends, which would otherwise have gone to landfill. The items are made available at low cost via the Reverse Garbage warehouse at Addison Road and online.

To increase the market for these rescued items, Reverse Garbage runs workshops for community members on how to make the most of the rescued resources. Artists also provide educational workshops to a range of ages, abilities and needs. Grants of donated materials, service-in-kind, mutual benefit projects and small financial sponsorship are also available to community, creative and educational groups.


Reverse Garbage partners with

•     Addison Road Child Care Centre to show external educators their Loose Parts Play resources in action;

•     provides free materials to Palletable Furniture for training disadvantaged youths in wood working and retail outlet for the furniture they make.;

•     Golden Letter Club to provide stationary for its members to hand write letters to isolated and socially marginalised people;

•     Boomerang Bags who run sewing bees to make reusable bags and encourage the community to avoid single use carry bags.

•     Jamestown Junk Percussion Collective who reuse resources ro create positive awareness of African culture through their sustainable workshops and performances.


In March 2020, when the COVID-19 Pandemic revealed a dangerous shortage of Personal Protective Equipment Reverse Garbage put their network into action and delivered 2,500 face shields to medical staff masks for frontline health workers.


Reverse Garbage diverts 250 tonnes from Landfill each year.


Reverse Garbage and the Bower provide rare reuse and repair services and reduce illegal dumping on Inner West Streets and Laneways.


Officer’s Comments:


Staff have no comment.






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