Reusing and recycling consumer goods could create 450,000 UK jobs

More than 450,000 jobs could be created in the UK over the next 15 years by reusing and recycling household goods. 

The Green Alliance, an independent thinktank focused on the environment, believes that prioritising repairing and reusing existing goods could create a thriving new industry in Britain and help the nation reduce the amount of waste it produces. 

At the moment, many items are thrown away when consumers no longer want them and either end up in landfill or are exported to other countries to be recycled. But refurbishing goods means they can be sold on at a higher value than if they were broken up and recycled. 

According to the Green Alliance, a wide range of jobs could be created in the UK, including highly skilled roles repairing electronics, machinery, and other complex items. But the thinktank’s report says the government would need to lead the way in promoting a circular economy where a much larger proportion of goods were reused or repaired instead of being thrown away. 

While recycling would still be an important part of the strategy, it would be used as a last resort for items which were unsuitable for reuse and repairs. The think tank is suggesting new policies like reducing VAT to zero per cent on repairs and refurbishments and introducing extensive training schemes to create workers with the skills needed. 

Focus on sustainability would reduce unnecessary waste 

In a Green Alliance press release, policy analyst Zoe Avison said: “A big programme to avoid unnecessary waste and reclaim the value of materials would not only help consumers but create jobs in communities across the country.” 

MPs have called for the government to look at ways that consumer goods could be made easier to repair to reduce how many items are thrown away each year. This could include introducing right to repair rules where manufacturers have to consider how easy items are to fix during the initial design process and make sure spare parts are available. 

Businesses within the furniture industry are already looking at ways they can reduce unnecessary waste and become more sustainable. Data suggests that an estimated 2.5 per cent of household water in the UK is furniture and carpets. 

One of the ways this issue could be addressed is for manufacturers to look at the design of their products, making sure they are built to last and can be easily repaired or recycled. The government is looking at introducing minimum standards when it comes to the durability, repairability and recyclability of furniture, placing more responsibility on producers for what happens to their end products.  

Local Enterprise Partnerships focused on repair and refurbishment will also be encouraged. 

Increasing how many consumer goods are saved from ending up in landfill is becoming a higher priority all over the world. The EU has introduced a Circular Economy Action Plan which identifies furniture as one of the areas where change is needed to make sure products are designed to be sustainable. 

If you’re a company operating in the furniture and homeware industry, AP+ can help with fulfilment, distribution and returns management including the refurbishing stock to minimise waste and maximise your sales, all from our 300,000sqft purpose-built warehouse. To find out more, contact our team today.   

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