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Untapped value in reusing our bulky waste

WRAP’s latest report on reuse shows that councils collect more than 1.5 million tonnes of household bulky waste each year in the UK.

For every 10 items collected, around four will be furniture items, two will be large electrical items such as fridges and another two will be textiles such as carpets.

These products all have high embodied carbon. So reusing or repairing more of them has a huge environ-mental and commercial resale potential.

A substantial amount of this waste can be reused. With minor repairs, reuse rates typically increase to 50% or more for some items, especially electricals. The potential in furniture reuse was slightly lower at 40%.

So why is there not more reuse of bulky waste? There is a clue in the furniture figures: these suggest that storage and collection may play a large part in deter-mining the reuse potential of items after disposal.

There must be value for retailers who offer take-back schemes when new items are delivered and for councils looking at partnering with social enterprises, which often provide reuse and repair services.

It also makes sense for recyclers to consider the commercial benefits of assessing high-value products like electricals for reuse before recycling them.

Whatever option, there is a huge stream of products out there with untapped value.

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