Establishing carbon impacts for disabled children charity

Since 2018, we have provided continuous circularity support to the charity Newlife, with a focus on establishing robust carbon footprint metrics and modelling.

Newlife provides life-changing and life-saving equipment to disabled and terminally ill children. Through its retail shops and online sales platform, Newlife receives surplus stock and returns from major retailers and re-sells clothing, furniture, home products and bric-a-brac. 100% of Newlife’s profits supports disabled children and their families in gaining access to essential specialist equipment.

Highlighting the tangible advantages of Newlife’s reuse initiatives not only provides valuable insights for sustainable practices, it also allows us to present a model showcasing how reuse activities significantly contribute to the ambitious pursuit of net-zero sustainability goals.

Objectives

The aim was to provide Newlife with a detailed breakdown of carbon impacts at various stages of the product lifecycle – assessing the contribution of carbon savings from reuse activities across different product categories, such as textiles, hardware and footwear.

Newlife also sought a method for the equitable distribution of carbon savings among retailer donors.

Approach

We used an extensive and organised data collection methodology to conduct an organisation-wide life cycle-based carbon assessment for Newlife.

The detailed data collection protocols provided enabled Newlife to capture information on incoming and outgoing stock to calculate carbon impacts. This covered all aspects of inbound and outbound logistics, sorting and storage processes, utility use in operational activities and reuse, recycling and destruction destinations and treatment.

To calculate the carbon savings from reuse activities, comprehensive data was gathered on direct item sales for reuse at Newlife stores and other places in Europe.

The data collected was inputted into a custom-built life cycle-based carbon model developed specifically for Newlife. The model quantifies both the carbon emissions from carrying out the preparation for reuse activities and estimates the potential carbon savings resulting from the displacement of virgin materials and products through reuse and recycling initiatives. The net carbon impact was calculated by aggregating both overall carbon emissions and potential carbon savings.

Outcomes

From April 2022 to March 2023, the total volume of second-hand items collected (both within the UK and abroad), along with the total tonnage sold through Newlife shops in the UK and other European countries, was considered for a lifecycle carbon assessment.

The total direct carbon emissions from operation activities of Newlife in 2022-23 amounted to 2,500 tonnes of CO2eq. Of this, 87% of the carbon emissions was linked to utility use, while the remaining 13% resulted from logistics related to inbound and outbound stock.

However, the positive impact of Newlife’s reuse initiatives on carbon savings was substantial. Total carbon savings were achieved of 9,900 tonnes of CO2eq, of which direct sales in the UK accounted for 60%.

The net carbon emissions figure is a pivotal metric and indicator for informed decision-making in organisations such as Newlife. In 2022-2023, Newlife’s activities collectively resulted in a net saving of 7,400 tonnes of carbon.

Newlife’s net carbon savings from enabling the reuse of donated stock was equivalent to carbon emissions from more than 21 million road miles driven by average cars.

“The team at Resource Futures are very cooperative and approachable. Their insight is invaluable to Newlife being able to improve carbon savings and make changes internally to allow us to continue to support ‘People and Planet’.

“Having an impartial view is paramount to analysing the data we provide. I highly recommend working with them.”

Sue Maplesden, Head of CSR Partnerships Support Team at Newlife

Impact

Newlife provides a noteworthy example of the positive environmental impacts of supporting social good when retailers work closely with charities to enable reuse of quality items.

By following Newlife’s example, we can all be part of a more sustainable world through adopting reuse principles, supporting:

Environmental conservation: Increasing reuse of products and textile materials can significantly reduce the demand for virgin materials, water and land use.

Carbon footprint reduction: The substantial net carbon saving showcases the potential for increasing reuse in the UK to contribute significantly to achieving climate change targets.

Circular economy and social value: Taking action that supports the principles of a circular economy creating economic value for charities helps significantly improve the quality of life of people and communities.

Data-driven decision making: By accounting for all possible emissions and potential savings, life cycle carbon modelling empowers organisations like Newlife to make informed decisions in pursuit of sustainability goals and net-zero targets.

 

Project Information

Services involved

Circular Economy

Carbon

Team involved

Ann Stevenson
Circular Economy Lead

Nirmala Menikpura
Principal Consultant