Stakeholders across the UK believe more can and should be done to stimulate, reuse but a number of barriers need addressing, according to a report launched today by incoming CIWM President Professor Margaret Bates.
Entitled “Reuse in the UK – a ‘State of the Nations Report’”, it was prepared for CIWM by Beasley Associates Ltd and Ray Georgeson Resources Ltd, with additional steering group members Craig Anderson, chief executive of FRN, and David Roman Waste & Recycling Manager for the British Heart Foundation.
It is based around responses to targeted online surveys of four key stakeholder groups: local authorities, reuse organisations, private waste management companies, and housing associations. Complemented by in-depth interviews and a literature review, it provides a detailed snapshot of the current landscape and the different motivations and types of relationships that drive reuse.
Reuse Isn’t Articulated Well…
The report finds that while the business case for reuse is broad – encompassing environmental, economic and social benefits – it is rarely articulated effectively. Financial constraints are also an issue, and survey respondents highlight the need for more infrastructure and collection services, better communications and public engagement, and more good practice guidance. Formal reuse contracts and strategic partnerships are also identified as important, and are evidenced in the 13 case studies included in the report.
A number of recommendations are put forward, including the need for more co-ordination and collaborative working between key industry bodies active in the reuse realm to support best practice and knowledge sharing and to maximise the impact of existing communications campaigns.
Capacity and skills building is also identified as a priority, and a range of practical actions are proposed, including networking events to bring different stakeholders together and promote better engagement and understanding of the opportunities. Given the diverse nature of reuse organisations, and the significant number of micro-enterprises that characterise the sector, additional skills support is also recommended.
The report also suggests that a more robust policy framework is likely to be needed to mainstream reuse. It proposes the establishment of a cross-sector group to review current reuse policy across the UK and assess the viability and effectiveness of further measures, including specific reuse targets, incentivisation through Extended Producer Responsibility schemes, and standardised data collection metrics to improve reporting and benchmarking.
A Much Neglected Area Of Waste Policy
Talking about the report in her inaugural speech, Professor Margaret Bates said: “This is a relatively neglected area of waste policy and yet one which has so much to offer both in practical terms and as a vehicle to raise wider awareness about waste prevention – a difficult message to get across in today’s consumption driven society. One of my aims during the next year is to explore how CIWM can act as a focal point for some of the recommendations put forward in this report.”
Report author Dr Jane Beasley added: “Evidence showed a very resilient sector which thrives on the commitment of individuals. Through their hard work and tenacity, the wider benefits of reuse, which extend way beyond the diversion of materials for a second life, are being realised and lives are being changed. We have an obligation as a collective industry to support the progress of this sector and maximise the opportunities that reuse can bring.”
The full report can be found here