How the charitable recycling sector can help all levels of government meet Australia’s 2030 National Waste Policy targets.

When you look at the big picture, charitable reuse and recycling can make a big difference in helping Australia move towards a circular economy.

The comparative study we commissioned in this report proves that the sector not only significantly reduces waste but has both social and environmental benefits, too. And, in turn, will help inform our decisions that will benefit people, planet and profit now and in the future.

Australia’s 2030 National Waste targets aim to:

  • Reduce total waste generated in Australia by 10% per person.
    That’s 300kg per person
  • Achieve 80% average resource recovery rate from all waste streams.
    The charitable recycling sector is already well ahead of that at 86% recovery rate across the sector, so we’re well poised to help you achieve your goals.

In FY20, charitable recycling helped divert over 1 million tonnes of waste from landfill. That’s around 39kg per person per year.

Annual Donations to Charity Shops

Donations ProcessedTonnes
Total Donations Processed1,005,952
Clothing Donations310,316
Revenue from Sale of DonationsAUD
Total Annual Revenue$961,000,000
Total Revenue (Clothing)$527,500,000

Average Consumer Donations

Average ConsumerKilograms
Donations Made to Charity Shops per Person39
Clothing Donations to Charity Shops per Person12
Donated Products Per Capita by StateKilograms
Tasmania67
South Australia56
Queensland55
Victoria36
New South Wales31
Western Australia31
Northern Territory31
Australian Capital Territory14
National39

Our infrastructure is enormous:

3,000+

charity and social enterprise retailers

10,000

charity collection bins

5,295

full-time employees

33,500

volunteers

Economic Impact from Clothing – Jobs

Jobs and Volunteer Positions CreatedJobs
Total Jobs Created5,295
Jobs Created (Individuals Facing Barriers)1,211
Volunteer Positions Created33,576
Profile of Charity Shop EmployeesPercent
Employees with a Disability (601)11.3%
Employees on Supported Wages (611)11.5%
Volunteers Moving to Paid Employment5.0%
Volunteers Under Mutual Obligation*17.0%
Volunteering HoursHours
Total Volunteer Hours (annual)9.2 Million
Average Volunteer Hours (weekly)4

*Work for the Dole, community service orders

What we collect is re-used through charity and recycled domestically

(Or sent overseas to be reused there).

It’s all part of the circular economy, in which charitable recycling plays a crucial role.

How does this help?

Let’s take textiles as an example. Not only does this re-use reduce pressure on landfills, it also has a far lower environmental impact than new clothes.

86% of what we collect is recovered and reused:

  • 16.55% Sold in charity shop
  • 36% Recycled domestically
  • 0.5% Provided as welfare
  • 33% Exported for reuse overseas

Donations Used (add rounded tonnages)

Donations Used (Clothing)PercentTonnes
Sold in Charity Shop16.5%51,202
Recycled Domestically36%111,714
Exported for Reuse in Developing Countries33%102,404
Provided as Welfare0.5%1,552
Waste to Landfill14.0%43,444
Resource Recovery Rate86.0%
  • 66% reduction in carbon emissions across the supply chain. GHG Emission savings 888,000 tonnes/yr.
  • 59% reduction in global energy use. Energy use saved 1.9 Million MWh/yr.
  • 57 % reduction in global water consumption. Water consumption saved 88,000 ML/yr.

Environmental Impact from Clothing

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Saved (Annual)Percent
888,000 Tonnes66.0%
Water Consumption Saved (Annual)Percent
89,000 ML57.0%
Energy Use Saved (Annual)Percent
1.9 Million MWh59.0%

As well as reducing waste, charitable recycling helps create social and economic benefits, too:

  • Environmental Benefits
  • Economic Benefits
  • Social Benefits

Economically, we turn waste into money.

As you know, a lot of the would-be waste we collect gets sold through charity shops, generating almost $1 billion a year for the economy ($961m in FY20)

A significant amount of this goes to support social programs, creating over

  • 5,000 FTE jobs – 1,200 for people who would otherwise face barriers to employment, like disability
  • 33,000 FTE volunteering opportunities – this creates community and can help prevent loneliness and mental health issues for many people

 Of the $1 billion, textiles represent $527m in revenue to the Australian economy.

That equates to:

  • $1,700 revenue per tonne of clothing recovered
  • $120per tonne if the textiles went to landfill

Economic Impact from Clothing – Revenue

Value to Australian EconomyAUD
Revenue per Tonne of Clothing Recovered$1,700
Total Revenue from Clothing Donations$527,500,000

Socially, we provide services that take the pressue off government, including:

  • Aged care services
  • Education programs
  • Hostel accommodation
  • Migrant/refugee assistance
  • Food and shelter
  • Disability services
  • Emergency/crisis relief
  • Hospital and health services
  • Mental health services
  • Suicide prevention counselling
  • Medical research

When you look at the big picture, charitable recycling is a sector that deserves your support. Because when you help us, we can help you.

Over 1 million tonnes diverted from landfill creates almost $1 billion in revenue which pays for over 5k FTE jobs and 30K volunteering opportunities.

Methods of Collection

Methods of CollectionsPercent
In Store93.0%
Corporate Donations59.0%
Donation Bins81.0%
Picks Ups from Homes78.0%
Warehouse Drop Offs/Transfer Station66.0%

Average Charity Shop (donations and revenue)

Annual Donations Received per Charity ShopTonnes
Total Donations Received376
Donated in Store339
Donated via Collection Bins37
Annual Revenue per Charity ShopAUD
Total Revenue$359,144
Total Revenue (Clothing)$197,132

About the Research

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.

References: 

  1. MRA Consulting Group: Measuring the Impact of the Charitable Reuse and Recycling Sector – A comparative study using clothing donated to charitable enterprises, 3 March 2021.
  1. National Waste Policy Action Plan 2019, https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/5b86c9f8-074e-4d66-ab1108bbc69da240/files/national-waste-policy-action-plan-2019.pdf
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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