Reusable goods 'worth £400m' binned

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Call to ban materials from landfill

Households are binning far too many perfectly serviceable goods worth more than £400 million every year, according to a report.

Potentially reusable items sent to landfill across England each year, from armchairs to kettles and televisions, weigh almost 615,000 tonnes, or as much as 90,000 elephants, the report of the Local Government Association's (LGA) Reuse Commission said.

This could equate to a £60 million saving to council tax payers, or £3 a household, through diverting waste from landfill, while the sale of reusable textiles would be worth up to £143 million and the resale of reusable waste electrical and electronic equipment could have a value of up to £231 million per year.

In total, there could be up to £435 million of value through reuse available each year to local authorities and their partners, the report found.

The LGA said some goods, particularly electrical, could be difficult or costly to fix or could be seen as older models, adding that it would like to see manufacturers making it easier or cheaper for items to be repaired.

The report highlighted a range of methods and best practice in reuse, including eBay, Freecycle, local projects, charities and social enterprises as well as informal arrangements between residents.

The LGA is calling on consumers to join in a new "reuse drive" to save taxpayers "millions", help support local causes and prevent unnecessary use of the country's landfill sites by finding new homes for unwanted but functional items.

Councillor Mike Jones, chairman of the LGA's environment and housing board, said: "Every year, a mountain of televisions, kettles, furniture and other items are thrown away, even though they are
not broken and could be re-used.

"We're calling for councils and consumers to join together to find new homes for these goods, which will not only save taxpayers money but reduce the amount of waste unnecessarily sent to landfill.

"We know lots of consumers already find new homes for their unwanted items, which saves taxpayers from paying for collection and treatment.

"But there are opportunities for far more reuse of a range of goods, and we want consumers to get involved and play a bigger part in this.

"Landfilling is expensive and the cost of disposing of unwanted but reusable items is £90 million, money which could be saved from our council tax bills."

Councillor Clyde Loakes, chairman of the LGA's Reuse Commission, said: "Government, councils, the waste industry and voluntary groups need to work together with consumers to highlight the potential of reuse.

"We want to see a vibrant reuse culture which provides jobs, training and value to our society and economy and which puts money in taxpayers' pockets.

"Our recommendations look at ways to make reusing products easy and accessible and proposals to give consumers the confidence to buy reused goods.

"This will help raise the profile of reuse, and enable residents to think about ways that they could find new homes for household goods.

"We also want to see a thriving market for reuse goods. To do this we need to make it viable for new reuse businesses to enter the market by offering tax breaks and designing opportunities to reuse goods at the earliest opportunity."

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