Policies & Projects

Gap Analysis of Government Policies

Charitable Recycling Australia has commissioned new independent research analysing all Federal and State Government Waste Policies, for a gap analysis based on the Waste Hierarchy and Circular Economy Principles. In addition to identifying policy gaps, the gap analysis also identifies government targets in respect of waste reduction, resource recovery, carbon and zero waste to help inform opportunities that exist to accelerate progress towards their targets through highest and best use interventions, such as reuse, repair and repurposing that are not yet included in government policies given their generally current linear line defaults straight to recycling.

The objective of the Gap Analysis is to identify gaps in best and highest use, which is often coupled with lack of funding or resources to address Reduce, Reuse and Repair in line with international consensus around the waste hierarchy and circular economy principles – and to encourage all Australian governments to embrace highest and best use interventions and integrate them in their Circular economy policies, with applicable targets.

The Gap Analysis, conducted by MRA Consulting, follows the November 2022 launch of the Monash University ARC research headline findings, and National Reuse Measurement Guidelines (see below).

National Reuse Measurement Guidelines

As part of the ARC grant project Measuring the Benefits of Reuse in a Circular Economy, Monash University has co-designed a draft set of National Reuse Measurement Guidelines to enable a standardised approach to collecting, interpreting and reporting on reuse impact data.

  • This is relevant for all Australian governments as it allows reuse to be integrated into their Circular Economy policies as a highest and best use intervention on the Waste Hierarchy.
  • The framework enables reuse organisations to measure and report on their own impact.
  • Contingent on government support, Charitable Recycling Australia will then be able to measure all reuse data across charities and social enterprises in a first ever National Measurement of Reuse contribution to Australia’s economy, environment and society.

In the Monash University approach, reuse will be measured at the point of sale, which captures information about the quantity of items resold, the category of items, and their cost – and allows for the interpretation of data into average weights per category, average material composition and product life cycle assessments that are readily available.

Using this data and other reporting as outlined in the framework, it is now possible to demonstrate the social, environmental and economic impacts of reuse, including:

  • Avoided virgin material consumption and greenhouse gas emissions savings
  • Employment and volunteer opportunities – in a high job creation sector including scaling jobs for people facing barriers
  • Skills development and work-readiness support – to capture the additional supports the charitable sector provides over and above typical training, to integrate people facing barriers
  • Education and community engagement – to capture reuse workshops, events and training
  • Total value of reused goods sold in the charitable and community reuse sector each year
  • Total value of goods provided for welfare and in-kind to other organisations

Some of the key policy opportunities for Australian governments to support reuse include:

  • The integration of reuse into government policies with reuse targets and funding, as a highest and best use intervention at the top of the Waste Hierarchy
  • A national standard approach to measuring reuse, with appropriate resourcing and support for Charitable Recycling Australia to collect, interpret and report reuse data.
  • Specific grant funding for reuse, the preparation for reuse (diversion) and repair
  • Incentives to support collections, sorting and repair of reusable items, including dedicated funding streams targeting specific items and materials.
  • Establishing linkages between Circular Economy objectives and social impact goals at a national and state policy level, to incentivise and support triple bottom-line impacts including the creation of targeted employment and training opportunities.
  • Supporting reuse activities through partnerships with consumers, businesses and government
  • Tax architecture to encourage brands to donate unused pre-consumer items to charity

Charitable Recycling Australia is calling on all Australian governments to incorporate the waste hierarchy and circular economy into their policies, by integrating reuse and repair with measurable targets – and to measure all reuse data across charities and social enterprises in a first ever National Measurement of Reuse contribution to Australia’s economy, environment.

Clothing Reuse Export Accreditation Scheme

Charitable Recycling Australia has established a credible, realistic and practical accreditation process to provide a standard for charitable recycling exporting activities in Australia, and specifically the export of secondhand clothing.

The Clothing Reuse Export Accreditation Scheme will give confidence to consumers and others that the clothes being donated to charities are being managed in a responsible way.

This means fundamentally that where donated clothes are being exported or provided to a third party, that it is done in an environmentally and socially appropriate manner, and that there are objective checks and balances to show that.

Charitable Recycling Australia wants to help guarantee that charities and exporters have appropriate processes and agreements in place to ensure the quality and performance of the off-take agreements which exist for clothing donations in export markets.

To facilitate this quality assurance, Charitable Recycling Australia has developed an accreditation scheme for charities that directly or indirectly export second hand clothing. Accreditation is intended to be achieved by meeting and committing to specific procedures which are proposed in the Scheme handbook.

The handbook provides participants and prospective participants with the relevant resources and information to become and remain accredited under the Clothing Reuse Export Accreditation Scheme.

It sets out the processes that apply to Charitable Recycling Australia audits, assessment of accreditation and compliance, and consequences of non-compliance. It ensures transparency in relation to Charitable Recycling Australia’s secondhand clothing export accreditations and explains the requirements of participants of the scheme.

The purpose of this accreditation scheme is to:

  • Accredit and assure charitable recyclers export activities
  • Accredit individual organisations to an agreed standard
  • Not seek to validate a supply chain and final destination
  • Build and grow in the long term
  • Be easily understood and implemented by participants of the scheme

When accredited, members will be recognised as completing best practice export activities, with flow on benefits in assuring stakeholders including governments and consumers/donors on the benefits of the trade.

The following benefits may be applicable to participants of the scheme:

  • Recognition of quality export activities
  • Public recognition of participants completing best practice export activities
  • Shareable certifications and endorsements
  • Recognised standards and guidelines for export practices
  • Support and guidance from Charitable Recycling Australia

Please fill out the application form most relevant to you or your organisation.

Checklist Application for Charities
Application for Service Providers exporting on behalf of a Charity

If you have any questions about the Scheme, please contact Omer Soker, CEO, Charitable Recycling Australia.

If you require any assistance with the application process or form, please contact Shlomit Kuttner of Equilibrium on shlomit@equil.com.au.

Charitable Recycling Australia Benchmarking Tool

Charitable Recycling Australia has launched a complimentary Benchmarking Tool to identify best practice retail performance benchmarks for the charitable sector that will help inform and elevate the collective and individual performance of participating members. Our primary principle is organisation data confidentiality. The only data that will be distributed will be an aggregate data table based upon the combined data that comes from members. No data received from individual members will be shared at any stage. The initial pilots have commenced, with quarterly data being collected for five organisational metrics from a large and representative group of participating members.

  • Average Number of Transactions
  • Average Items per Sale
  • Average Sales per Square Metre
  • Average Transaction Value
  • Average Conversion Rate

Charitable Recycling Australia members who provide data will gain access to the benchmark. The Benchmarking Tool will increase in metrics and complexity as members collectively agree on how to improve the tool and outcomes for into the future. It will grow in time to include more metrics, including options for individual shops, regions, types of stores and other key datasets as required to provide participating members with greater insights to financial performance and other key performance indicators. Charitable Recycling Australia will utilise the broad data to support advocacy for the sector and to support members in their service objectives. Organisations voluntarily participate in the benchmarking tool and can use the tool data within their organisation.

Impact Measurement

Charitable Recycling Australia commissioned independent market researchers MRA Consulting Group to measure the triple-bottom line impact of the charitable reuse and recycling network.

The results in the report were determined through a comparison of a tonne of clothing in Australia going to landfill versus a tonne of clothing being collected through a Charitable Reuse and Recycling Sector Enterprise.

Detailed data was collected from 27 Charitable Reuse and Recycling Sector Enterprises, representing 54% of charity shops in Australia.

Designing a National Textiles Reuse Policy

Charitable Recycling Australia advocates for a National Textiles Reuse Policy. Clothing textiles represent a valuable resource in Australia’s economy, but the vast majority is generated outside of the charitable reuse and recycling sector and subsequently ends up in landfill.

The National Waste Report 2017-18 highlights that Australia has very low resource recovery rates of just 12%. This is in stark contrast to the textile recovery rates achieved by charitable reuse and recycling enterprises, which hover between 80% – 90%.

With the fashion industry beginning to embrace sustainable solutions and consumers starting to demand that brands and retailers consider environmental impacts, we believe our governments could act decisively to get more textiles out of landfill, extend the life cycles of textile products and design these goods with circularity principles top of mind.

Specifically, we advocate for a multi-sector collaboration between commercial textile manufacturers, fashion brands and clothing retailers, charitable reuse and recycling enterprises and state governments.

The focus of this collaboration will be designing a National Textiles Reuse Policy that articulates strategies for:

  • diverting textile waste from landfill
  • promoting reuse and encouraging consumers to donate to and shop at charity and social enterprise retailers
  • exploring commercially viable recycling technology, offshore processing and the use of renewable fibres in garment design

*Note: This submission was written prior to the rebrand of Charitable Recycling Australia. As a result, we are referred to as The National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations throughout. Additionally, new data has emerged since this position was published, showing that illegal dumping and unusable donations result in 80, 000 tonnes being sent to landfill every year.

Illegal Dumping Policy Position

Australian charity and social enterprise retailers are forced to send over 80,000 tonnes of unusable donations to landfill every year, primarily due to illegal dumping and unusable donations.

Not only does this increase waste and result in lower rates of resource recovery and reuse, but it means that these retailers are forced to spend $18 million on waste management and disposal every year, via waste contractor fees and site clean-up costs.

We believe there is significant opportunity for the State and Federal governments to offset the impacts of illegal dumping and provide a foundation of support for charitable reuse and recycling enterprises.

*Note: This policy position was written prior to the rebrand of Charitable Recycling Australia. As a result, we are referred to as The National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations throughout. Additionally, new data has emerged since this position was published, showing that illegal dumping and unusable donations result in 80,000 tonnes being sent to landfill every year.

Weight Based Billing

Traditionally, Australian waste collectors charge their customers based on bin size and volume of waste, which is referred to as lift-based billing. Under this system, there is no price incentive to reduce waste because the fee per ‘bin lift’ is the same whether said bin is empty, half-full or full.

Alternatively, weight-based billing charges customers based on the weight of waste, which offers an incentive to modify waste generation and recycling behaviours. It allows customers more transparency in terms of their waste generation and management costs, with more accurate and substantial data that can inform business and sustainability reporting.

Charitable Recycling Australia is currently organising a weight-based billing tender in NSW, designed to save our member enterprises money and provide more billing transparency and accountability.

*Note: This summary paper was written prior to the rebrand of Charitable Recycling Australia. As a result, we are referred to as The National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations throughout.

Donation Bin Policy

Charitable Recycling Australia’s member enterprises operate many of the donation bins around Australia. These bins are an important way for communities to directly support charitable causes, while also diverting materials from landfill and giving them a second life.

The donated items can then be sold by charity and social enterprise retailers, who can funnel the resulting revenue of $961+ million into their charitable work to assist Australia’s most vulnerable communities.

*Note: These policies were written prior to the rebrand of Charitable Recycling Australia. As a result, we are referred to as The National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations throughout.

Container Deposit / Refund Schemes

Container Refund Schemes (CRS) play an important function in advancing the circular economy in Australia.

Specifically, they facilitate increased recycling and a reduction in litter, generate new jobs and business opportunities in resource recovery and provide sustainable income to the Not-For-Profit sector.

There is a significant opportunity for charitable reuse and recycling enterprises to participate in Container Refund Schemes. In particular, they can act as collection points for donations which would enable them to claim a refund for each eligible container or as recognised Network Operators who claim a handling fee for container returns.

*Note: These policies were written prior to the rebrand of Charitable Recycling Australia. As a result, we are referred to as The National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations throughout.

Measuring the Benefits of Reuse

Measuring the Benefits of Reuse in a Circular Economy is an Australian Research Council Linkage Project led by Monash University in collaboration with Charitable Recycling Australia, the Queensland Department of Environment and Science, Green Industries South Australia and Sustainability Victoria.

The National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations Limited is a company limited by guarantee, operating under ASIC and trading as Charitable Recycling Australia.
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