As much as 90,000 elephants: LGA warns wasted goods worth over £400 million

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Clothe checking (Foto: IGC / Axion)

London — Even in these times of austerity, households are binning far too many perfectly serviceable goods worth over £400 million every year, new research reveals. The reusable items sent into landfill, from armchairs to kettles and televisions, weigh as much as 90,000 elephants. The Local Government Association (LGA) is calling on the nation to join in a new reuse drive that can 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.

The report of the LGA’s Reuse Commission shows:

  • Almost 615,000 tonnes of material is currently disposed of in England, even though it has the potential to be reused each year.
  • This could equate to a £60 million saving to council tax payers, worth £3 a household, through diverting waste from landfill.
  • The sale of textiles that could be reused would be worth up to £143 million and resale of reusable Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) 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 reuse partners.
  • Reuse can also bring significant social value and can support local causes, charitable organisations, training and job creation.

While consumers will have different reasons for throwing items away, some goods, particularly electrical, can be difficult or costly to repair or can be seen as older models. The LGA would like to see manufacturers make it easier or cheaper for items to be repaired.

The report highlights 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.

Launching the report, Cllr Mike Jones, Chair of the LGA’s Environment and Housing Board, commented: „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.

The report „Routes to reuse: maximising value from reused materials“ can be downloaded under local.gov.uk.

Source: The Local Government Association (LGA)