Euro students help Plymouth recycling biz stay current

By WILLIAM TELFORD, Business Editor/Plymouth Herald


shelly monk

Shelly Monk and Tellus College work placement student Charlotte Jander

FOR entrepreneur Shelly Monk, providing placements for foreign students has helped keep her business up to date – and even got her a new website.

Mrs Monk is director of Weston Mill-based Surplus Rescue CIC (Community Interest Company), a social enterprise which recycles and re-homes unwanted furniture.

She has provided placements for three German and one Italian student, all provided by Plymouth’s Tellus College under the 14.7billion-euro European Union-funded Erasmus+ programme.

“They were each here for three or four weeks,” said Mrs Monk. “They helped me catch up on my admin, they did accounting, invoicing, inventories, and connected with other organisations.

She added: “Initially I was quite nervous, that it would become a baby-sitting exercise, but they had such good language skills, written and spoken, that they quickly got involved in the business and turned out to be an invaluable asset.

“And through hosting the students I have now developed a relationship with an organisation in Germany.

“I hope to be able to produce some recycling initiatives for them.”

Surplus Rescue was set up to utilise surplus waste materials left over from construction projects across Plymouth, and stop them going to landfill.

The business won the Green Business of The Year crown at last year’s Herald Business Awards.

Mrs Monk has been running the business with only the assistance of volunteers, but is hoping that may change this autumn, possibly via a collaboration with another organisation.

Surplus Rescue has also just secured a deal with Plymouth City Council to recycle furniture being removed from the Civic Centre and other redundant authority buildings.

The business has also recycled items from closed-down police stations and is due to embark on an initiative with MVV Environment Devonport Ltd, the company building the new North Yard incinerator.

“It’s a circular sustainable economy teaching programme,” Mrs Monk said.

Surplus Rescue already works with a number of leading Plymouth firms such as Devon Contract Waste, Princess Yachts and Persimmon Homes, and is in talks with other prominent businesses about recycling initiatives.

The social enterprise has also donated recycled goods to such worthy recipients as Dartmoor Zoo, Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team and the Plymbridge branch of the National Trust.

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