Items for re-use

The following page lists items that are more commonly re-used.

Furniture

Sofas, wardrobes and beds are the main types of bulky items disposed of at HWRCs and through kerbside bulky waste collections. WRAP research suggests that just over half of all bulky items taken to HWRCs are re-usable in their current state or with minor repair. For items collected via bulky waste collections, 24% of items were re-usable, with a further 16% assessed as re-usable with slight repair. Due to the amount of items that arise and the tonnage, sofas and beds present a significant re-use opportunity throughout the country. With other items their suitability for transportation needs to be assessed. For example, flat packed and fitted furniture may have less potential for re-use.

Smaller household items (bric-a-brac, books)

Householders also have smaller household items such as books, toys and ornaments which can be exchanged and re-used.

Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment (WEEE) 

Each year there is total of 348,000 tonnes of household WEEE arising at HWRCs, and 149,000 tonnes from bulky waste collections. Larger heavier items predominate bulky waste collections, with smaller items taking a larger proportion of WEEE deposited at HWRCs. It is also estimated that 89,000 tonnes of WEEE are also disposed of in residual waste at HWRCs and 160,000 tonnes of WEEE are disposed of via residual household waste collections. Almost a quarter of WEEE brought by householders to HWRCs across the UK has a re-use value, and together this could be worth over £200 million in gross revenue each year. The equivalent gross resale value for equipment from bulky waste collections is £77 million. 

Non clothing textiles

An estimated 630,000 tonnes of non-clothing textiles enter the UK waste stream each year: 169,000 tonnes of mattresses, 400,000 tonnes of carpet and 61,900 tonnes of duvets and pillows. Only 16.5% of discarded carpet and 14.7% of discarded mattresses are currently re-used, recycled or used for energy recovery. Collecting carpets, mattresses and pillows for re-use and recycling can be financially viable. Potential models include direct collections from households and businesses, collections from central points (such as HWRCs) and take-back schemes. A number of models were explored in the WRAP report ‘Demonstrating the viability of collecting non-clothing textiles’.

Clothing

Around 30% of clothing in the average wardrobe has not been worn for at least a year, most commonly because it no longer fits. In addition, an estimated 350,000 tonnes of used clothing goes to landfill in the UK every year. If all this material was given to charities, local authorities or other organisations for re-use or recycling, it would generate over £140 million of additional income at 2015 prices. Two-thirds of consumers in the UK buy or receive pre-owned clothes, indicating significant willingness to do so.

Routes to clothing re-use in the UK are well established. As well as being sold by charities, clothing is sold online and passed on to friends and family or through informal networks and community groups, such as mother and toddler groups.

Bikes

Bikes in all conditions can be repaired and re-used. There are a number of bike re-use and recycling schemes across the UK which take unwanted bikes and refurbish them for re-use. If the bike is unrepairable the parts can be removed for use on another bike. Donating bikes to these schemes diverts waste from landfill, generates income for the organisation and provides volunteer and training opportunities.