Resource Use

3.7 million items reused in 2019, says Reuse Network

The Reuse Network has published its 2019 Social Impact Report, revealing that its member organisations reused 3.7 million furniture and electrical items in 2019, diverting 125,000 tonnes of waste away from landfill and saving 135,850 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

The Reuse Network Social Impact Report 2019

The network, which represents around 200 reuse charities and social enterprises across the UK, provides support and guidance for organisations to alleviate poverty and reduce waste through the reuse of household items.

Through supporting access to affordable reused products, including furniture and electronics, the Reuse Network has helped 1.6 million households in the UK, leading to £468 million worth of savings for low income households compared to buying items new.

Stressing the importance of providing affordable items for people in need, the Reuse Network’s report highlights that 22 per cent of the UK population is in poverty, with 8.8 million people turning to credit to pay for everyday essentials. The report explains that these everyday essentials should instead be distributed from the usable household items that are sent to landfill – out of the 1.6 million tonnes of bulky waste items thrown away each year, more than half of these items could be reused.

Commenting on the report, Craig Anderson, Reuse Network CEO, said: “The last few years have been difficult for many reuse organisations, as we received reports of charities closing their doors due to financial constraints and austerity. In spite of this, the reuse sector has stepped up to ensure that low income households continue to access affordable furniture and electrical items.

“Our commercial partners, including John Lewis & Partners, IKEA and DixonsCarphone are instrumental in supporting members of the Reuse Network and their beneficiaries in accessing good quality items at affordable items thanks to donations and takeback schemes.”

With the reuse sector supporting over 56,000 people through volunteering, training and work placements, and employing around 4,900 staff, Anderson explained: “Our members go far beyond the provision of reused household items, they become a hub for their communities in providing key services and support networks.”

Supporting reuse

Despite the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy calling for an increase in reuse, the strategy lacked substantial actions to promote this aside from suggestions to establish contracts with charities and set targets for local authorities.

The Welsh Government, however, has placed increasing focus on reuse as a means of achieving its target for all waste to be reused or recycled by 2050, as set out in its ‘Towards Zero Waste’ strategy.

As part of its drive to promote reuse, the Welsh Government published a report in July 2018 explaining the benefits of reuse and recommending a series of actions, including a national reuse target and national reuse hubs and collection points.

This was followed by the announcement of a £5.4 million investment across eight projects to improve levels of reuse and recycling, including more than £1 million for ‘Green Shed’ reuse centres in Conwy and Denbighshire – replicating the model initially launched in Pembrokeshire.

You can read the Social Impact Report 2019 on the Reuse Network website. 

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