Refill it, reuse it – and then recycle it

14 June 2024

This Sunday marks World Refill Day, a day of action designed to accelerate the transition away from single-use materials and towards refill and reuse.

A key goal behind a lot of the work we do at Resource Futures is reuse, and with good reason. Despite improvements over the past decade, 83% of plastic doesn’t get recycled after use, instead ending up incinerated, in landfill or littering our streets, beaches, rivers and seas.

This makes finding ways to reuse material a critical element of a more sustainable, circular society. Some of our projects have seen sustained success in shifting attitudes towards a more reuse-first mindset.

Our Gloucestershire Real Nappy Project, which promotes environmental and cost savings benefits of using washable cloth nappies, has been focusing on increasing uptake of pre-loved nappies to help close the loop; meanwhile our Circular Economy team has been helping Bryson Recycling to scope out the potential for adding reuse shops to its household recycling centres in North Wales.

Our longstanding Community RePaint project, which gives unused paint a new lease of life, has added a number of new schemes to its countrywide operations, including at two household recycling centres in Staffordshire following a successful pilot scheme. And in Devon, our Waste and Recycling Advisor team has visited upwards of 15,000 households in the past year to increase recycling rates in the county.

To turn the tide towards a more sustainable society, collaboration is absolutely paramount. Working with Somerset Climate Action Network, our Community Action Groups Network in Somerset recently brought residents, businesses and other groups together at its ‘Action for Somerset’s future’ event – exploring a number of perspectives on driving sustainable change in the county, including strategies for waste and the circular economy.

The Fixy van out and about at a community event in Somerset
The Fixy van out and about at a community event in Somerset

Finally, our Fixy project, which was recently shortlisted for a national award, has been criss-crossing Somerset with its bright blue van, giving residents the opportunity to bring their old electrical equipment in for repair, or donate it for reuse by others.

A lot of the focus – and the lion’s share of the statistics we collect – around sustainability is centred on recycling. While it is a vital part of the solution, it’s far from the only tool we have in the cupboard. Events like World Refill Day give us a welcome opportunity to recognise this.

This article forms part of our monthly newsletter, which features challenging opinions, thought-provoking ideas and inspiring stories around circularity, sustainability and resource management. You can sign up to receive it using the form below.