This blog post is about one hurdle you may face in an organisation when it comes to setting up a reuse program for surplus assets, furniture and equipment. Reuse is not given the priority it deserves- we explain why.
Did you know that reuse actually has a much greater impact than recycling? It saves more carbon, it saves more money, it has a huge social impact.
Yet recycling gets all the attention and all the funds. We’re going to show you some evidence to support this claim.
Reuse Trumps Recycling
When you reuse an item, you prevent or delay the manufacture of a brand new item. One of the biggest avoided impacts is carbon emissions. All goods require energy to be built and transported and thus the supply chain carbon impacts are reduced.
This is known as Scope 3 carbon emissions.
So why then do we concentrate on recycling products when we should concentrate on stopping their production?
Another benefit to reuse is on the waste side of things. Consumer goods generate 90% more waste during manufacture than they do during disposal. The chair you're sitting on for example, produces 90 times more waste in weight than the actual weight of the product! If we can stop the manufacture of new chairs and repair refurbish or reuse existing chairs, we stop all that waste.
IT products generate around 4000 times their own waste during manufacture! So if you wanted to pick off some low hanging fruit that is where you should start. Learn how to set up your own internal it reuse and repair scheme here.
When you reuse an item you avoid paying for its disposal, which is great, but not all the money relates to disposal costs. The item that you're throwing away actually has a lot more cost tied up in it. By reusing, you're stopping the purchase of new items, so the procurement department benefits considerably. Savings our customers have made on Warp It are over £9mil.
There are some other benefits that we didn't realise initially, one of which is staff time management and time savings. Now, procurement managers often come to us telling us that when they're using Warp It internally they see the incidences of purchase orders go down, and the associated time cost with those purchase orders too. Those purchase orders are now being avoided because staff are trading internally and externally.
The procurement impacts are another reason reuse should be given more priority.
A large part of reuse is that traded items like furniture, end up in charities, not-for-profits and social enterprises where they can have a much greater impact. Charities can resell those items to generate revenue, but often use them on the front line so they're actually stopping the purchase or procurement of new items themselves. That investment that would have been spent on the chair, desk or lamp can now be spent on frontline services.
This covers the first barrier to reuse, which is the fact that reuse isn't given the priority it deserves. What we are encouraging you to do now is explore this with your sustainability or procurement committee.