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Report reveals huge re-use potential in bulky waste

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

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

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 is named 'Composition and re-usability of bulky waste in the UK'. 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.

“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 on WRAP's website

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About Charlie Kennedy

Having studied Law, English and Philosophy, I went travelling to India for 6 weeks working in orphanages and in a leper colony. I came home and decided to study Journalism. Starting my third and final year this September, I have just been given the fanta... read more