Measuring the benefits of reuse in the circular economy

Developing insights relating to reuse commodity chains, their societal benefits and contributions to nurture a more future-forward inclusive, circular economy.

Investigators

  • Professor Carl Grodach
    Monash Art, Design and Architecture
  • Dr Julian Yates
    Dr Ruth Lane
    Monash Arts (Social Sciences)

Partner organisations

  • National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations Inc
  • Sustainability Victoria
  • Green Industries SA
  • Department of Environment and Science

Funded by

  • Australian Research Council

This project will uncover the hidden contribution of reuse organisations to transform the way people live, creating a more sustainable and socially equitable environment.

Professor Carl Grodach

Reuse of goods and materials is critical for a more sustainable Circular Economy where products and materials remain in circulation, reducing pressure on virgin resources and minimising waste. Governments are now endorsing Circular Economy as a policy goal and developing targets and reporting frameworks to guide strategies and investment but, so far, the targets are based around quantities of different types of materials sent for destructive recycling. Effective measures of reuse need to account for the numbers of items sent for reuse by product type, not just weight.

Charitable and community sector organisations, driven by social goals like job creation and training, facilitate forms of reuse that profit-driven businesses cannot. Because of this they are particularly important for understanding and engaging with the social dimensions of the CE that have so far been neglected in CE policy.

This research is conducted by Monash Urban Planning and Design and Geography researchers to build understanding of the role of charitable and community sector organisations in the reuse of products and materials and associated employment and training. It develops practical methods to measure and report on the contributions of reuse organisations to a socially inclusive Circular Economy. Its aims are:

  1. To address the gaps in understanding what drives and upholds reuse and the socio-economic benefits it provides; and,
  2. To develop a national reporting methodology able to inform government circular economy policy, strategic investment and targets.

The three-year project commenced in November 2020 with an overall appraisal and characterisation of the different types of charitable and community sector organisations involved in the repair, reuse and redistribution of used goods. Researchers will work with eight organisations, representative of the different types, located in inner and outer suburbs of cities and in regional centres in Queensland, South Australia and Victoria. An advisory committee with representation from the government partners, NACRO and member organisations, will ensure the research meets needs of government policy developers as well as charitable and community sector organisations.