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Call for greater reuse of bulky waste

New research suggests more than half of bulky waste items taken to household recycling centres could be reused.

WRAP has published a report, ‘Composition and reusability of bulky waste in the UK’ (pdf), which also suggests that 40% of bulky items collected at the kerbside, such as sofas and TVs, could be reused.

The research indicates that, of bulky items taken to household waste and recycling centres (HWRCs), 32% are reusable in their current condition - or 51% if items requiring slight repair are taken into account.

For items collected at kerbside, 24% are estimated to be reusable in their current condition, rising to 40% if items requiring slight repair are included.

WRAP says this is the first UK-wide research into the composition of bulky waste in order to assess the potential for reuse. In 2011, WRAP published a report on the environmental and economic benefits of reuse.

Mervyn Jones, head of products and materials at WRAP, said: “There is a perception that many bulky items taken to HWRCs or collected at kerbside are not reusable. However, this research shows that there is significant reuse potential to be realised from these items. This research will help local authorities and HWRC operators to remove these items from the waste stream, either for resale or for passing on to the third sector.”

Of all bulky waste in the UK, 42% is furniture, 19% textiles and 19% WEEE. The research found that the most common bulky items taken to HWRCs are televisions, wardrobes and carpets, while the most common for kerbside collection are sofas, mattresses and beds.

WasteDataFlow, the online database for reporting municipal waste, shows that around 1.6 million tonnes of bulky waste were collected at kerbside or taken to HWRCs in 2010/11.

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