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Re-use and Repair

Re-use and repair is essential in the development of Scotland’s circular economy. 

Although often confused, re-use and recycling are not the same. Re-use of products and materials is more beneficial as it retains a product’s inherent value by keeping it in use for longer. This minimises waste, creates jobs, has positive social impact and reduces consumption and associated carbon impacts.

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Re-use can be at a product or component level however its core consequence is maintaining products within their primary function for which they were designed.  This can be achieved either through direct re-use or supported through refurbishment, repairs and upgrades (preparation for re-use)

“We want more products to be designed for longer lifetimes, ready to be disassembled, repaired and eventually recycled; with more companies keeping hold of valuable products and components through leasing, servicing, repair and resale” – Making Things Last Strategy.

Re-use has a key role to play for Scotland’s economy and environment, helping us get better value from products by moving away from the model of buying items and throwing them away after little use. 

Building the sector in Scotland will be essential in preventing perfectly usable items from going to landfill, benefiting the environment, and relieving pressure on scarce raw materials, while creating local jobs.

Many items, which could be used by someone else, currently go to landfill. Thousands of re-usable items end up there every year, including 304,000 individual 3-seater sofas and 151,000 washing machines.

What are the opportunities?

The Re-use Sector in Scotland is already worth approximately £244 million per annum to the Scottish economy, re-using around 89,000 tonnes of material and employing over 6,000 people.  The potential exists, however, to do so much more. 

Zero Waste Scotland’s research into re-use in Scotland suggests that up to 150,000 tonnes of re-usable materials are currently either being disposed of or otherwise being sent to lower value recycling.  Capturing just one quarter of these additional materials could benefit the Scottish economy by a further £104 million per year and generate an extra 3,000 fulltime jobs* (*Scottish Re-use Mapping and Sector Analysis 2014 (link).

Re-use and repair business models

In order to increase the rate of re-use for products and their components there is a need to stimulate demand for them from within the supply chain, and ultimately from consumers.

  • Incentivised return - Offering a financial incentive for the return of ‘used’ products so that products can be refurbished and re-sold.
  • Asset management - Maximising product lifetime and minimising new purchase through tracking your assets, planning what can be re-used, repaired or redeployed at a different site.

Funding innovative re-use and repair projects

The £18 million Circular Economy Investment Fund includes a specific focus on innovative re-use and repair projects led by small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) which:

  • Are collaborative in nature and of a sufficient scale to demonstrate to or inspire others
  • Implement new solutions to transform re-use and repair activities regionally or nationally
  • Test and deliver new services and models of operation
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