Publication - Research and analysis

Safeguarding Scotland's Resources - A Programme for the Efficient Use of Our Materials: Analysis of Consultation Responses

Published: 28 Jun 2013
Part of:

In June 2012 the Scottish Government launched a consultation on Safeguarding Scotland's Resources - A Programme for the Efficient Use of Our Materials. This research findings report summarises the written responses to the consultation.

76 page PDF

755.3 kB

76 page PDF

755.3 kB

Safeguarding Scotland's Resources - A Programme for the Efficient Use of Our Materials: Analysis of Consultation Responses
4. Reuse

76 page PDF

755.3 kB

4. Reuse

Supply and demand for reused items

4.1 The Scottish Government proposes to work with ZWS to increase the supply and demand for quality reusable items through:

  • supporting the pilots of new and innovative collection systems for reusable items, including through recycling centres and kerbside collections
  • covering collection for reuse in the forthcoming household waste collection guidance
  • raising awareness of households and businesses of how they can source reused items
  • supporting reuse through public procurement.

Question K: Do you agree with the actions identified to increase supply and demand for reusable items?

4.2 Forty four respondents (44% of standard responses) addressed this question as follows:



Agree with actions



Partially agree






Commentary only



NB Percentages may not add to 100% exactly due to rounding.

Community reuse

4.3 The benefits of community reuse were acknowledged both for the environment, but also in terms of wider social impact. One respondent commented:

'The delivery of social benefit which attaches to much consumer re-use activity is a powerful motivator, and the community sector, which has considerable experience in re-use, can both contribute to re-use in the commercial and business sectors and deliver social benefit' (Community Resources Network Scotland).

4.4 Three respondents urged that more should be done to encourage businesses to form partnerships with local community reuse groups. COSLA expressed an interest in exploring reuse networks as a potential delivery mechanism to provide support for vulnerable communities under the Social Fund Successor Arrangements.

4.5 The development of Revolve was welcomed as injecting professionalism and standards into the sector. One respondent remarked:

'We support the development of Revolve to help increase professionalism and standards within reuse and repair, as this will help allay companies' fears and associated reputational risk that repaired and refurbished goods will not perform adequately when resold' (AmeyCespa Ltd).

4.6 One waste management company emphasised that reuse should not be equated only with the social enterprise sector but also the significant number of SMEs who contribute to reuse.

Access to reusable items

4.7 The theme of quality of reused items and ensuring safety standards featured prominently in responses. Again, Revolve was cited as a network associated with assurance of quality. It was suggested that accreditation of reuse organisations should be a requirement, along with work to progress towards safety standards such as PAS141. Two local authorities agreed that large organisations need guarantees on product performance to encourage them to purchase reused products.

4.8 Whilst there was general agreement that potential exists for expanding opportunities to access reusable items, some felt that investment is required to support the infrastructure associated with expansion (3 mentions). For example, one individual described how expenditure on premises for reused furniture projects can be prohibitive, but Government subsidies could address this. Others (2 mentions) recommended that attention is given to ensure procurement policies are sustainable and designed to assist innovative small businesses in this field.

4.9 One retailer commented that larger items which consumers may find difficult to purchase new may be more commercially viable as reuse items than smaller products. An individual respondent perceived that private initiatives such as Gumtree and eBay tend to be more successful than computer-based 'waste exchange' schemes such as those piloted by waste associations. One local authority view was that the popularity of web-based tools such as eBay and Freecycle lay largely in their accessibility. Attention to making schemes 'visible' and 'practical to participate in' is key according to one NGO which described:

'excellent examples of tertiary education establishments that allow for the donation (or occasional collection) of goods from halls of residence and student flats' (Changeworks).

Demand for reused items

4.10 A recurring theme was that whilst householders are becoming more accustomed to the concept of reuse, through for example, car boot sales and charity shops, more work is required to raise awareness amongst businesses. Several respondents emphasised the need to convey messages about quality and standards of reused items amongst the business community. Once again, Revolve was seen as helping to trail blaze in this respect.

4.11 Smarter and more creative marketing was advocated to help promote the benefits of reused items amongst the business sector. Educating the younger generation was also identified as a route into generating demand for reused items.

General comments

4.12 Five respondents commented on establishing a balance between Government intervention in the form of targets and strategy, and a softer 'market push' approach driven by consumers. One respondent commented:

'For the most part, the emphasis should focus on improving awareness and consumer confidence in reuse rather than through direct policy measures (such as targets)' (Hewlett-Packard).

4.13 Other comments included:

  • The focus on reuse should be balanced with focus on designs for reuse and resource efficiencies (2 mentions). One respondent remarked:
    '....the emphasis should be at the design stage, rather than the 'end of pipe' (Scotpak).
  • Important that reuse activities are carried out within the WEEE system so that data can be properly captured and count towards targets (1 mention).
  • ZWS could provide support to study and disseminate best practice in this area (1 mention).

4.14 Three respondents cautioned that reuse may not always be the best environmental option, for example, where there have been advances in technology and newer models are more resource efficient. One NGO recommended guidance is provided to assist in this area.

Question L: Do you think it would be (a) practical and (b) valuable to collect separate data on the quantities of materials 'prepared for reuse' with a view to developing a preparing for reuse target contributing towards overall recycling targets?

Views on practicality of collecting separate data

4.15 Thirty respondents (30% of standard responses) addressed this question as follows:



Think it would be practical to collect separate data



Think it would not be practical to collect separate data



Commentary only



NB Percentages may not total 100% exactly due to rounding.

4.16 Amongst the 11 respondents who considered it feasible to collect separate 'prepared for reuse' data were five local authorities and three waste management companies. A recurring theme was that using average rather than actual weights of items would be beneficial particularly for smaller operations which may not have weighing facilities. One local authority called for guidance on the extent of data to be gathered, types of items covered, and who is responsible for collection. One NGO suggested trialling a data collection system with Community Resource Network Scotland members and organisations participating in the Revolve Quality Programme.

4.17 Two local authorities commented that they already had a form of capturing reuse data, through the Waste Data Flow. Likewise, two respondents described how WEEE data is already being reported for WEEE received by a treatment facility for reuse.

4.18 One waste management company recognised the practical challenge of collecting such data, but nonetheless considered this worthwhile:

'Given the emergence of this part of the waste hierarchy as of increasing importance, any difficulties in developing measurement methodology should not be allowed to get in the way of establishing baselines for reuse as it becomes a more important part of the resource use mix' (Resource Association).

4.19 Amongst the 14 respondents who perceived data collection to be impractical, half were local authorities and three were manufacturers.

4.20 The main reasons provided in opposition to collecting data were:

  • Although this may be easier for formal activity, there is much informal movement of reusable items, often online through sites such as eBay which would be very difficult to track and record (6 mentions).
  • Too difficult to manage and will incur significant administrative costs (4 mentions).
  • Smaller operations such as charity shops will not have the resources to record data accurately (2 mentions).
  • Instead of measuring quantities of materials prepared for reuse it may be better to infer such data from other measures such as: decrease in landfill tonnes; public perception; buying habits; and public sector purchasing (2 mentions).
  • The nature of reusable items is that they get reused repeatedly which makes data collection challenging (1 mention).

Views on the value of collecting separate data

4.21 Thirty one respondents (31% of standard responses) addressed this question as follows:



Think it would be valuable to collect separate data



Think it would not be valuable to collect separate data



Commentary only



NB Percentages may not add to 100% exactly due to rounding.

4.22 Twenty respondents representing seven different respondent sectors perceived there to be value in collecting separate data although many acknowledged the challenges associated with this. The usefulness of the data was seen in regard to the following:

  • Essential for assessing progress towards a reuse target (3 mentions).
  • Supports the Scottish Government's desire to promote reuse (3 mentions).
  • Step forward in providing evidence for moving up the waste hierarchy (2 mentions).
  • Will enable examination of how different sectors (e.g. local authorities) are contributing to overall local authority and national targets (1 mention).
  • Way of educating people, for example, on the difference between reuse and recycling (1 mention).
  • Will provide management information on waste trails (1 mention).
  • Helps raise the profile of materials prepared for reuse (1 mention).

4.23 Some respondents set out what they perceived to be preparatory steps to take before the collection of separate data can be considered. A recurring theme was that an acceptable level of robustness of data will need to be achieved, with a regular reporting system in place. One waste management company recommended that clear definitions of recycling, recover, reuse, refurbishment and other terms will be needed. Clarity was also requested on the rationale for collection of data and its use. One PR-Compliance organisation suggested that further consideration on setting a reuse target should form part of the wider EU examination of potential separate targets.

4.24 Few substantive reasons were provided to support the view that separate reuse data will not be valuable. The crux of these arguments was that the data will be inaccurate and unreliable. One local authority argued:

'There is potential for confusion as to what can be counted as preparing for re-use and what is not. Does a shop selling architectural salvage count as reuse, but if the same items appear at a reuse shop on a recycling centre, what then? There are plenty of items that go through charities that do not get counted as "re-use" as part of the current data returns submitted to SEPA. Vehicle dismantlers have been selling items from used cars for years. Again does this count as preparing for re-use? (Highland Council).


Email: Tim Chant