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Environment

NSW REUSE REVOLUTION EASES COST-OF-LIVING CRISIS

NSW Environment Protection Authority 2 mins read

The NSW community saved $432 million last year through second-hand shopping, helping to ease the cost-of-living crisis according to a new study into the reuse sector released today.

The report ‘Measuring Reuse Activity and Impacts in NSW’, developed by not-for-profit Charitable Reuse Australia in partnership with the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), is the first of its kind and provides an in-depth look into the industry’s environmental, economic, and social benefits.

This research estimates NSW reuse activity in 2022-23 for organisations such as charity stores, social enterprises, second-hand clothing stores, rent-a-racks, and commercial collectors/ exporters and is based on insights provided by 44 organisations representing more than 600 reuse shops.

The findings show reuse is providing substantial financial relief to households, highlighting the vital role second-hand goods play in reducing expenses, while also delivering job opportunities, charity support, and reduced carbon emissions.

NSW EPA CEO Tony Chappel said reuse generates 25 times more jobs than recycling and 81 times more than landfill on a per tonne basis.

"This evidence in creating employment and providing valuable training is truly commendable, making a real difference in people’s lives,” Mr Chappel said.

"Supporting the reuse sector means supporting local charities and community groups, who reinvest millions back into our economy. It's a powerful reminder that every item donated or purchased second-hand has a ripple effect of positive outcomes.

"As we face climate change challenges, efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conserve 51,000 megalitres of water are more important than ever. This report underscores the critical role of a circular economy and sustainable practices in protecting our environment for future generations."

More than 1,500 full-time equivalent staff are working in these organisations across NSW, and their hard work helps to divert around 49,900 tonnes of products from landfill to reuse each year.

Reuse is also accelerating the state’s transition to a circular economy, saving 321,000 tonnes of CO2, equivalent to removing 134,000 passenger vehicles from the road.

Charitable Reuse Australia CEO Omer Soker said this initiative is circular economy leadership in action, and NSW is leading the way.

Whenever Australians donate a quality item or buy something pre-loved from a charity shop, they make a massive impact socially and environmentally. Additionally, they find something unique to cherish,” Mr Soker said.   

“It’s inspiring to see how many second-hand items are being rehomed, keeping them out of landfill and putting them back into the hands of those who need them.

“Buying second-hand is good for the environment, good for society and good for you. There’s something intrinsically wonderful about being conscious, sustainable, and ethical all at the same time.”

Other key findings estimate reuse organisations have:

  • Rehomed 107.7 million second-hand items.
  • Repaired 3,900 tonnes of items for re-use.
  • Sold or donated second-hand goods valued at $243 million.
  • Reinvested $51 million raised into social and community programs.
  • Avoided the direct consumption of 29,900 tonnes of virgin materials.
  • Saved 80,000 hectares of land, equivalent to the size of 75,000 soccer pitches.

A copy of the report is attached to this media release.


Contact details:

media@epa.nsw.gov.au or 02 9995 6415

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