Yesterday (Monday 23 April), our Head of Public Affairs, Matt Kelcher, joined representatives from around 30 re-use and recycling organisations at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). They were attending the third DEFRA stakeholder workshop on their new Resources and Waste Strategy.
The Strategy has been in development since July 2017 and will be published in the coming months. We were invited along with other organisations to contribute to the final findings of the wide ranging strategy which is designed to change the way England handles its waste over the next 25 years and shift disposal costs onto producers.
Matt attended two breakout sessions during the workshop, on consumption and on end of life.
Firstly, during the consumption session, Matt highlighted how charity shops can provide a huge opportunity to promote re-use, particularly when people upgrade household electrical products. There was general agreement that recycling tables – against which many councils judge themselves – can be counter-productive when they discourage re-use which is a far more sustainable option.
Secondly, during the session on end of life, Matt highlighted how many items which users may consider to be at the end of their useful life could actually be used and sold by charity shops. He highlighted successful examples of councils and charity shops partnering together to run a charity shop at a household recycling centre. Staff pick out items which have been thrown away but can be resold and then any profits generated are split. The group agreed that this kind of model should be replicated.
As the voice of charity retail, we will continue to attend high level summits like this and ensure that the contribution our sector makes to sustainability is heard by influential audiences.