In Australia, the rise of cheap products and rapidly changing trends mean that household items such as furniture and textiles are being disposed of at a rate that our recycling infrastructure cannot keep up with. As a result, most of these items are ending up in landfill.
For example, 85% of furniture placed on the kerb for bulky waste collections in Australia ends up in landfill while 80% of unwanted textiles face the same fate. Identifying the need for further diversion of waste from landfill, Muswellbrook Shire Council, have improved their reuse shop to enhance local participation in the circular economy and build a sustainable culture of reuse in their community.
Whilst Muswellbrook Shire Council has operated basic item rescue and resale services since the early 1990s, the Waste and Recycling team saw an opportunity to increase the visibility and social desirability of participating in reuse among their community members. Rebranding the shop to ‘The End of the Road – Reuse Shop’ as well as the improvements to shop layout and signage aimed to provide customers with a retail feel, whilst providing quality items at reasonable below-retail prices.
The reuse shop improvement project aimed to increase the number of items diverted from landfill, promote circular economy values, as well as continue to support social equity initiatives in the community.
The new and improved ‘The End of the Road – Reuse Shop’ opened in May 2019, representing a dynamic example of circular economy principles in action. Since the improvements to the shop Muswellbrook council have diverted 1109 items from landfill by selling them through the shop, simultaneously reducing the demand for purchasing new items.
By presenting their community members with a more inviting retail experience the reuse shop can engage more customers and ultimately conserve resources by minimising the environmental impact associated with the disposal of bulky waste as well as the manufacturing and extraction of raw materials that would otherwise have been required.
The shop also acts as a cornerstone of community education and engagement, promoting circular economy principles and sustainable practices to the community.