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Re-use and Repair Activity Review - 2011-17

Re-use and repair are essential activities within a circular economy, maintaining value and reducing wasted resource.

Re-use has therefore been a significant programme of activity at Zero Waste Scotland since 2011. This report reviews the activities undertaken as part of Zero Waste Scotland’s Re-use and Repair programme between 2011–17, a busy six years of support delivery, engagement and market development.

It is intended as an evaluation of this work, to understand and set out the learning and impacts from Zero Waste Scotland support and Scottish Government investment.

The over-arching objectives of the programme across the six-year period were to:

  • Mainstream re-use behaviours by overcoming existing negative consumer perceptions of re-use.
  • Improve and expand the re-use and repair sector through business support, grant funding and training.

The programme of activity was varied and included:

  • Networking, knowledge sharing and representation provided by Community Resource Network Scotland (CRNS).
  • Business development support and organisation improvements through grants and access to consultancy support as part of the Revolve certification process.
  • Communications campaigns to raise awareness of organisations within the sector, increasing footfall into stores and increasing supply of donations.
  • National services to increase supply of reusable goods via a freephone referral service, the Re-use Line.
  • Small and large grants to invest in new services, growth of operation and development of collaborations.
  • Coordination with public sector bodies to increase opportunities for providing services and securing supply of donations.
  • Knowledge building around re-use behaviours and opportunities through a range of research pieces.

The activity up to the end of March 2017 amounts to over 500 financial and advisory interventions at a range of organisations including local authorities, social enterprises and community groups.

Impacts are likely to have been felt beyond these interventions, for example in local communities and across the whole re-use sector. Monitoring of 23 of the stores that have been Revolve certified for the longest time has seen average sales doubling between 2013 and 2017, and in the 2016/17 year the Revolve network reported total sales of £33.4M and re-use of 23,000 tonnes of items.

We are also keen to understand the indirect and perhaps less tangible impacts the support has on the local communities – for example providing home-starter packs to disadvantaged families, employment opportunities for priority groups or musical instruments for children that otherwise wouldn’t learn to play.

Current re-use and repair support is now being delivered through an embedded approach, integrating re-use activity across programmes within Zero Waste Scotland. Key activities contributing to the re-use agenda are the Circular Economy Business Support Service and access to the Circular Economy Investment Fund, as well as supporting the NHSScotland to consider increasing re-use on its premises.

There has been further strategic commitment to the Revolve re-use standard over a 5-year period to 2023 and commitment to the Re-use Line to establish a financially sustainable model. We will continue to increase understanding of donation and acquisition behaviour towards re-use and consider how this contributes to engaging the public with the circular economy.
In 2019 Zero Waste Scotland conducted an options appraisal of the Re-use Line and how this could be taken forward. A decision was reached to replace the online order form and the phone line with a directory that allows users to access the details of the re-use organisations that collect from their area. This streamlines that user journey by providing them directly with the contact details of the re-use organisations.


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