British households save £1bn a year buying reused items, according to new research from WRAP which says the benefits of reuse will be a major theme of its work over the coming year.
Although one million sofas are reused every year, saving households more than £320m, WRAP says only 17% of discarded sofas are reused every year.
WRAP’s research, the first to quantify the benefits of reusing everyday items, was published at the organisation’s annual conference. It shows the environmental and economic benefits of reuse, including job creation.
Chief executive Dr Liz Goodwin said: “The research findings are staggering. Current levels of reuse create financial savings to households of around £1bn and reduce CO2 equivalent emissions by one million tonnes – the same as taking 300,000 cars off the road. But in terms of potential impact, this is clearly just the tip of the iceberg.”
Goodwin said the research indicates a considerable amount of reuse in the UK – typically through charity shops or online exchange and informally between friends and family.
“The benefits to household and business budgets could be even greater, for example if there was greater confidence in the quality of reused products. WRAP will be working to help address these issues,” she said.
The report found that 83% of sofas not reused are sent to landfill or recycling. WRAP said fewer than one in seven TVs were reused every year.
Dr Goodwin added: “Recycling is still crucial to ensure we maximise the value of materials, as not all items will be in a fit state for reuse. But the research demonstrates the significant benefits of reuse to the economy and environment.”
FRN chief executive Craig Anderson said: “The problem is that there is a barrier to reuse – the waste sector – with the way products are managed for recycling purposes and systems being set up for recycling.”