Recycling and recovery

Seizing the reuse opportunity: SUEZ estimates the repair and re-use sector will generate £63 million in revenue every year by 2028

This report is the third instalment in a series of re-use and repair guides

Today, SUEZ launches the third report in a series on re-use and repair. The “Re-use – seizing the opportunity” report looks at the scale of the opportunity being missed locally, regionally and nationally and the potential benefits that re-use could deliver to the UK’s growing green economy if it becomes more mainstream.

To achieve a truly circular economy, re-use and repair need to become the norm rather than the exception. SUEZ outlines in the report how the UK needs to accelerate this transition, by developing a more competitive and accessible re-use retail market that represents a viable alternative to buying new.

Re-use and repair sit just below prevention on the waste hierarchy – reusing items benefits the environment not only by reducing the need to transport and process the materials as waste, but also by avoiding the raw materials and energy required to produce an entirely new product. For local communities, re-use can provide access to quality preloved goods at more affordable prices and create skilled local jobs. SUEZ estimates that if every person had just one item repaired every year, this would require 40,000 jobs across the country.

SUEZ also estimates that there are nearly 13 million items per year that the sector is missing the opportunity to put back into use, and that more than 35,500 items that could be reused are currently disposed of every day at household waste recycling centres.

In the report, SUEZ calls for Government policy to set an ambitious agenda through the maximising resources and minimising waste programme, with clear targets and timescales to give direction to both industry and the value chain. With this in place, SUEZ estimates that by 2028, the repair and re-use sector has the potential to manage more than 15 million items and generate sales revenues in excess of £63 million per year.

Some of the key recommendations in the report include:

  • Government policy and support – there is a clear, growing need to accelerate the development of re-use and repair and this requires policy certainty, including clear targets and a requirement to collect and report key data along the value chain.
  • Local authorities can take the lead – councils should consider incorporating re-use and repair within an authority’s organisational or resources and waste strategy, and work with contractors and service providers in order to deliver the best long-term results.
  • The third sector as a key player – the third sector will continue to play an important role in supporting vulnerable groups in society, the development of a more business-based approach to re-use will compliment the significant efforts of the third sector, as it brings with it new, skilled paid jobs and a higher rate of re-use and repair of items across the economy.

With more than a decade’s experience in re-use, with 30 re-use shops on household waste recycling centres across the UK and the award-winning Renew Hub in Greater Manchester specialising in repair and upcycling, SUEZ is committed to planning and designing for a future where re-use and repair is more mainstream.

Commenting on the new report, Sarah Ottaway, Sustainability and Social Value Lead at SUEZ recycling and recovery UK, said: “We’re excited to be launching the third instalment today in our series of re-use and repair guides. This report is a call to action to Government and local authorities to recognise the significant opportunities for re-use and repair and accelerate efforts to make it a more mainstream activity. Re-use and repair activities already create huge benefits in a variety of ways both environmentally and economically, and the potential social value created throughout the process is also significant. By embedding re-use and repair at the fore of a more circular economy, we have the potential to create thousands of green jobs and make significant carbon savings which would contribute to the UK’s net zero target. This is an opportunity for the UK to lead the circular economy, creating benefits that support national agendas, from levelling up to net zero and economic growth.”

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