Resource Use

COVID-19 sees reuse down 60 per cent

In a new report published today (28 January), the Reuse Network has found that rates of reuse fell 60 per cent between 2020 and 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Furniture reuse shopThe group’s ‘Social Impact Report 2021’ shows that between April 2020 and March 2021, just 1.5 million items were reused, falling from the previous year’s figure of 3.4 million. This decline, the Reuse Network says, has had a knock-on impact on the number of households benefitting from reusables, which has dropped from 1.5 million in 2020 to 652,098 in 2021.

The report attributes this to the COVID-19 pandemic, which it says ‘put a strain on the environmental savings created by the reuse sector each year’. In 2021, the sector diverted 50,574 tonnes of products from landfill, less than half of the Reuse Network’s 2020 figure, which is set at 111,664 tonnes. Carbon savings also fell, set at 54,355 tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2021, compared to 2020’s 123,236 tonnes.

Despite this, the report, the group states, demonstrates how the reuse sector ‘stepped in’ and responded to crisis in a year ‘defined by a global pandemic’, with reuse charities providing a ‘vital lifeline’ for people in crisis, supplying household furniture, electrical goods, food and other essential items.

Craig Anderson, CEO of Reuse Network, said: “The ongoing challenges faced by the sector following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and our members' response to these are a tribute to the sector’s resilience and dedication in supporting communities across the country.”

“The reuse sector demonstrated such resilience, and when faced with a complex and developing crisis, managed to not only sustain its services, but diversify to provide a growing array of services to support those in need.

“As a network, we review the challenges and opportunities facing the sector. Our new strategic plan is to respond to the growing urgency to address social exclusion and poverty, skills and jobs, and climate change and the emerging circular economy.

“Our strategy, therefore, focuses centrally on our newly adopted vision and mission; for a society where everyone can create a sustainable home, by supporting the reuse of products by UK charities and social enterprises who are established to alleviate social exclusion, and address climate change.

“As we move forward into the new year, the reuse sector is ready for the spotlight to be shone on us and to step into the limelight as reuse grows in importance, no longer only considered ‘a good thing to do’ but a necessity in creating a fairer and more sustainable world.”