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Huge re-use potential in bulky waste revealed in new WRAP report

More than half of all bulky waste items taken to household waste and recycling centres (HWRCs) could be re-used, according to a new report published by WRAP today.

The new report also reveals that 40% of bulky items collected at the kerbside, such as sofas and TVs, could be re-used.

‘Composition and re-usability of bulky waste in the UK’ – is the first UK-wide piece of research to look at the composition of bulky waste in the UK, in order to assess potential for re-use. It follows a report WRAP published last year on the environmental and economic benefits of re-use.

Mervyn Jones, Head of Products and Materials at WRAP, said: “There is a perception that many bulky items taken to household waste and recycling centres (HWRCs) or collected at kerbside are not re-usable. However, this research shows that there is significant re-use potential to be realised from these items.

 

Of bulky items taken to an HWRC, 32% were estimated to be re-usable in their current condition, increasing to 51% if items requiring slight repair (but in otherwise good condition) were taken into account. For items collected at kerbside, 24% were estimated to be re-usable in their current condition, rising to 40% if items requiring slight repair (but in otherwise good condition) were taken into account.

“This research will help local authorities and HWRC operators to remove these items from the waste stream, either for re-sale or for passing on to the third sector.”

The research was undertaken by:

  • Analysing call centre logs for bulky waste kerbside collections
  • Compositional analysis of bulky waste collected at kerbside
  • Surveying individuals depositing bulky waste items at HWRCs

Of all bulky waste in the UK, 42% consists of furniture, 19% textiles and 19% waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) – all materials which WRAP is exploring re-use potential for. The research found that the most common bulky items taken to HWRCs are televisions, wardrobes and carpets, while the most common for kerbside collection are sofas, mattresses and beds. WasteDataFlow (the online database for UK municipal waste reporting) figures show that around 1.6 million tonnes of bulky waste was collected at kerbside or taken to HWRCs in 2010/11.

The full report can be found at: www.wrap.org.uk/bulkywaste

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