Differentiated VAT Rates and the Waste Hierarchy: An Opportunity to Improve Resource Efficiency and Socio-Economic Inclusion in Europe
Social enterprises active in reuse and preparation for reuse activities provide work and training opportunities for those at most risk of socio-economic exclusion such as the disabled and long term unemployed. The reuse sector provides a multitude of different skill sets to allow such groups to be better equipped in the open labour market, gained from activities such as sales, driving commercial vehicles, marketing, woodwork, warehouse logistics, mechatronics etc. The sector is work intensive and rich in opportunity. For example it has been estimated that for every 1000 tonnes of electronics that are repaired, 200 jobs can be created if reused and repaired, but only 20 if recycled.
Reuse and preparation for reuse activities carried out by social enterprises thus has significant social value through its employment and training of marginalised groups. In addition the sector provides good quality items and appliances at a fraction of the price of a new item, giving access to such products to people of all income levels. We should not forget that according to Eurostat in 2011 9% of EU citizens were materially deprived.