The Norwich Business Upcycling Fair

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Rowan W

Bringing businesses together to explore the potential of upcycling

Norwich BID was proud to host its first Upcycling Fair on Wednesday 17th November, giving businesses the opportunity to learn how upcycling would benefit them, and the planet. This event was organised as part of Upcycle Your Waste, and built on the foundations of the BID’s upcycling hackathon StartUpCycle in July 2021. Small & Medium Enterprises (SME’s) across the Greater Norwich Area attended, learnt from upcycling experts, and discovered the solutions to reducing waste and repurposing rubbish. Watch the livestream from the event. 

Exhibitors at the fair ranged from large commercial organisations such as Aviva, waste experts like Norfolk Recycles, and sole traders such as Tamara/Stand who upcycle material to produce couture clothing. Also present at the event was Scoop who won the hackathon in July by creating an app to allow business to business upcycling, maximising cost and efficiency.

Martin Blackwell, Head of Operations at Norwich BID, opened the Fair by summing up the events ethos “It’s not about doing 1 thing 100% better but doing 100 things 1% better.” Martin continued, “What we are trying to do is find ways in which we can collectively work together to make the best eco system, by looking at how materials can be re-used and upcycled…Trash to treasure!”

The fair was organised as part of Upcycle Your Waste, with Norwich one of only 6 cities participating in this EU funded project through Interreg 2 Seas. Sadly, due to recent Covid restrictions in Europe our Dutch colleagues were unable to attend the fair in person but did pre-record an interview describing the free upskilling training available on the Upcycle Your Waste website.

Max McMurdo, designer, author and TV presenter, gave the keynote speech, and inspired the audience with stories from his vast experience of upcycling waste: from turning old shopping trolleys into chairs and shipping containers into floating homes during his appearances on George Clarke’s ‘Amazing Spaces’ on Channel 4, Max explained why he had made a career from upcycling waste. It seems that following the event Max too was inspired, “What a fantastic day with Norwich BID talking all things Upcycling! Good things are definitely happening in the world of waste, lots of discussions about how we can match waste producers with creative designer makers.”

Having been encouraged by Max, attendees then took part in round table ‘world café conversations’ where facilitators challenged them to identify what they considered to be the current barriers to upcycling waste products and to discover what practical options there might be for sharing, trading, recycling and upcycling end of life materials.

Solinatra, a local company with connections to Europe, who produce sustainable and compostable alternatives to single use plastics said “Fantastic event today celebrating all things upcycling, circular and sustainability in our fine city. It’s exciting to see so much appetite from our business and creative industries to work together on circular activities. Huge thanks to all at Norwich BID for hosting what we hope will be the first of many more such events to come!”

Stefan Gurney, Executive Director at Norwich BID said it was “an inspiring morning on Upcycling and how we can impact climate change by using by-products as resources. An amazing speaker Max McMurdo showing how design and creativity can influence our business choices and processes to upcycle.”

If you or your business would like to get more involved in the Upcycle Your Waste project please get in touch.

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