Everything we do depends on collaboration.

We help our members access the multi-sector support and funding they need to thrive.

We advocate for government investment in charitable reuse and recycling enterprises.

We are keenly aware of the role charitable reuse and recycling enterprises play in advancing circularity in this country.

At Charitable Recycling Australia, our mandate is making sure their voices get heard.

We believe our governments have so much to gain from leveraging their collective expertise and experience.

That’s why we work with our member enterprises to measure the triple bottom-line impact they deliver. From there, we amplify this impact through our platform, connecting our member enterprises with government and stakeholders.

Charitable Recycling Australia wants to see our governments scale the groundswell of the reuse, recycling and circularity movement.

With appropriate support and policy settings in place, we believe it’s possible to double the second-hand economy, enabling 500 million products to be diverted from landfill annually.

Specifically, we advocate for government investment in:

  • developing an endorsed, multi-stakeholder National Textiles Reuse Policy
  • subsidies to offset the excessive waste management costs currently shouldered by charity and social enterprise retailers
  • proven interventions that proactively deter illegal dumping (including consumer education campaigns)
  • recycling initiative grants that encourage reuse, repair and recycling of textiles, clothing and furniture
  • appropriate end-of-life collection systems and recycling technologies that can divert textile waste from landfill

Scaling the charitable reuse and recycling sector is a smart choice

Here’s why:

For over a century, charitable reuse and recycling enterprises have been championing circularity in their core operations.

These organisations sit at the very top of the waste hierarchy, fully committed to reuse, repair and recycling. They are already leaders in resource recovery; redirecting would-be waste from landfill and facilitating the collection, repurposing and sale of donated goods.

As our country’s biggest reuse network, Charitable Recycling Australia represents the majority of these charitable reuse and recycling enterprises nationwide.

We believe they are uniquely placed to drive the uptake of reuse and recycling across the country because of:

  • their proven track record; diverting more than 643,000 tonnes of waste and giving 285 million products a second life – every single year.
  • their existing infrastructure; an unrivalled network of retailers and reuse centres that are embedded in metropolitan, regional and remote communities.
  • their impact on regional centres; facilitating economic development, job creation and social welfare support.
  • their capacity to redirect clothing textiles from landfill; with resource recovery rates of up to 80-90%.
  • Charity and social enterprise retailers already divert more than 643,000 tonnes of waste and give 285 million products a second life - every single year.

  • Through 40 million consumer transactions, these enterprises generate $550 million in revenue. This directly funds charitable missions and social welfare programs for Australia’s most vulnerable people.

  • Charitable recycling enterprises also create up to 200 full-time equivalent jobs, for every 10,000 tonnes of materials used. This is over 20x more than the commercial recycling sector.

The challenge of illegal dumping

76% of Australian charity and social enterprise retailers cite illegal dumping as the single biggest roadblock to increasing their social and environmental impact.

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. Charity and social enterprise retailers are a prime target for illegal dumping of clothing, textile and household waste.

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. Handling dumped items also has a qualitative impact on staff morale and health and safety.

Dumping can be a deliberate practice, but much of it occurs because consumers can’t discern an unusable donation. Equally, they may not be aware of the immense financial burden that dumping or low-quality donations poses for charity and social enterprise retailers.

Our proposed solutions

While there are current waste levy exemptions in effect, 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.

Charitable Recycling Australia recommends that each State government allocate $10 per tonne of waste that result from illegal dumping and unusable donations. These funds would reimburse charitable reuse and recycling enterprises of the costs incurred through waste management and disposal fees.

That’s just $800,000 a year across all the states. We also challenge the Federal Government to match this funding, for a total government investment of just $1.6 million.

Charitable Recycling Australia has developed a 3-point plan to invest these funds into three proven, data-driven interventions.

Each intervention is seamlessly aligned with the needs and reuse and recycling aspirations of charity and social enterprise retailers. Accordingly, 89% of surveyed retailers claim that they would also consider co-funding the following initiatives.

1. Infrastructure
Investments

The installation of infrastructure like fencing, CCTV, signs and sensor lighting can deter dumping at reuse and recycling enterprise sites. Additionally, the purchase of waste management equipment like waste trucks can facilitate process improvements and increase recycling.

2. Recycling Initiative
Grants

We see great potential in the establishment of multiple, small-scale recycling initiatives at individual charity and social enterprise retailer locations. This would further encourage repair, repurposing and recycling and increase resource recovery rates. Additionally, these initiatives can drive regional economic development and job creation.

3. Consumer Education
Campaigns

Education campaigns can communicate the impact of illegal dumping and be a precursor to systematic change in these behaviours, especially around targeted dumping hotspots. The focus is on encouraging the innate generosity of Australians, while demonstrating ways they can donate responsibly.

*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.

Federal Inquiry into Australia’s Waste Management and Reuse and Recycling Industries

Charitable Recycling Australia commends the Government on launching its inquiry into Australia’s Waste Management and Recycling Industries. We support its focus on innovation solutions that:

  • reduce waste
  • increase reuse, repair and recycling
  • create new jobs, growth and social inclusion

As Australia’s largest reuse network, we represent the majority charitable reuse and recycling enterprises across the country. We are committed to sharing this collective expertise with the Government so that we can accelerate these innovative solutions.

In doing so, we believe we can create a more sustainable environment and an equitable society for all Australians.

*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.

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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