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People outside Reverse Garbage
Photograph: Mitch Lui

Inner West institutions Reverse Garbage and The Bower have been saved from closure

The Addison Road mainstays have a new home, but locals are still apprehensive

Alannah Maher

This morning, Inner West mayor Darcy Byrne announced that beloved local recycling institutions Reverse Garbage and The Bower Reuse and Repair Centre, which have long resided at Addison Road Community Centre, will be moved to a new home at the Summer Hill depot. The Prospect Road location will be converted into a reuse centre for these non-government-organisations and others. This announcement follows the news that Inner West Council has voted to convert Marrickville Town Hall into a live music and performing arts centre.

Community concern has surrounded the ongoing instability of Addison Road as a location for the not-for-profit and community organisations that reside there. The Bower was evicted in 2018 with the staff arriving to find its doors padlocked, but it was reinstated after the community protested the decision. Currently it is understood that these organisations have not been granted a new lease.

In a statement posted to Facebook, Byrne said: “Many local people have contacted me to express concern about Reverse Garbage and the Bower having to leave Addison Road and the Inner West. While we'd love to see them stay at Addison Road that is outside of our control and we have decided to act to make sure that these and other recycling services have a home in the People's Republic.”

Locals are concerned that the removal of these reuse and recycling centres from the Addison Road Community Centre is part of a mass exodus of valuable resources of people with low incomes in the Inner West from the Centre to make way for new developments. If you’ve ever seen a Mardi Gras float or made a costume for your kid, you’ve seen Reverse Garbage at work. If you need to replace a lid on a miscellaneous kitchen appliance, you’ve probably popped into The Bower. Reverse Garbage is part of the push for sustainable solutions to handle the current health crisis. At the height of lockdowns it provided free kits for the public to make face shields for hospital staff.

“Reverse Garbage and The Bower are the founding element of what has created such a strong and supportive community space at Addison Road Community Centre,” Concerned Inner Westie Bess de Brenni told Time Out

“I’ve been going there since childhood, and while I’m relieved these organisations have a new space to go to, it breaks my heart that the founding element that created this community space is going to go. It is the cornerstone of Addison Road. The new location is not as accessible [for me and others]. The Addison Road location has a bus stop right out the front and was catered so everyone in the community could have access to pick up affordable furniture and such.”

If you’re looking for ways to support, Reverse Garbage and The Bower are also in the running to receive some of $1.3 million in funding being offered in the Summer Hill electorate via the NSW Government's Community Building Project. You can vote for both here before Friday, September 11. 

Here's where you can repair, reuse and up-cycle your stuff in Sydney.

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