Re-use targets

What’s the problem?

Did you ever wonder how much of our discarded waste is still reusable? According to recent estimates 1/3 of all material arriving at recycling centres and civic amenity sites can still be re-used and at least 25% of electronic waste still has significant re-use value.

Unfortunately, a lack of legal support for preventing waste and reusing results in these masses of reusable goods being prematurely recycled, landfilled or incinerated. Just because something becomes waste, doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t be re-used!

This is a significant missed opportunity.  Approved re-use centres and networks could separate these items and give them a new lease of life, whilst at the same time providing significant employment and training opportunities in the re-use and repair sector.

Re-use of unwanted but usable goods should be the top priority, above recycling

RREUSE promotes an EU policy framework that enhances access for approved re-use centres and networks to these goods so they can prepare them for re-use and make them available on the market again. The term ‘preparation for re-use’ is simply a legal term that refers to the checking, cleaning and repairing activities of products that have legally become waste.

According to the EU waste hierarchy, preparation for re-use is classified as a waste treatment operation and requires the actors working in this field to comply with all necessary legal requirements to handle that material.

EU targets for preparation for re-use would help ensure that these products are given a new lease of life, low income groups would have access to material goods and at least 300,000 green jobs could be created

Did you know that Spain is the only country in Europe with a separate preparation for re-use target? The EU must look to this example and follow suit.


EU policy agenda

The Circular Economy Package and Waste Review

The European Commission released a revised version of the Circular Economy Package in December 2015. This legislation includes changes to the targets in the EU Waste Framework Directive. RREUSE is advocating for separate targets for ‘preparing for re-use’, to be promoted above recycling.

Setting quantitative targets for ‘preparing for re-use’ would prevent unwanted but re-usable goods collected as waste from ending up discarded for recycling, incineration or landfill. The EU targets are needed to drive greater access for the re-use operators from social economy to the waste collection contracts and waste collection points in order to source re-usable items. Greater access would save resources, provide quality second hand goods to poorer households and boost jobs, especially for disadvantaged people.

See our feedback and suggestions on the proposed Circular Economy Package here.


Extended Producer Responsibility

Extended Producer Responsibility is being promoted as a key market-based instrument to help implement EU waste legislation. However, it is increasingly evident that once EPR schemes have been put in place for waste streams such as Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), access for approved re-use centres and networks is increasingly restricted, leading to more direct recycling, landfilling or incineration of perfectly reusable products.

See our position on EPR here and a more detailed investigation into how EPR can support re-use here

Re-use centre employee repairing a machine for re-use. Photo: Envie

‘Preparing for re-use’ means checking, cleaning or repairing operations, by which products or components that have become waste are prepared so they can be re-used.


RREUSE position on Commission’s circular economy proposals
  • 28/4/2016

In December 2015, the European Commission relaunched a strategy for moving Europe towards a ‘Circular Economy’ which includes a...

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