Study into the Re-use Potential of Household Bulky Items

7th December 2016

The purpose of this research was to understand the composition of bulky waste in terms of item type and re-usability, in order to identify the opportunities for the re-use of bulky items across the UK.

Overview

Overview

National estimates derived from WasteDataFlow (WDF) suggest that across the UK during 2010/11, some 1,590,000 tonnes of bulky waste is collected at the kerbside or taken to HWRCs. Approximately twice as much is taken to HWRCs (1,050,000 tonnes) than is collected at the kerbside  (540,000 tonnes). 

Using the above data and extrapolating the sample findings across all UK kerbside and HWRC bulky waste collections suggests that of all bulky waste in the UK, (including both kerbside collected and HWRC bulky items), around 42% consists of furniture, 19% textiles and 19% WEEE. These estimates equate to 670,000 tonnes of furniture and 310,000 tonnes each of textiles and WEEE disposed by householders in the UK annually.

There is a perception that items, when they reach the HWRC, or are collected at the kerbside are no longer fit for re-use, yet this report identifies down to specific product level the significant amount of products that are potentially re-usable. It is hoped that this information can help to inform re-use organisations, local authorities and waste management companies of the potential re-use of items that are currently being recycled or disposed.

Available for download under 'related documents' are summary documents that look at composition and re-use potential of household bulky waste in the UK and by furniture, textiles and WEEE. We also have a technical report available for download below.

Download the full report >>

Reports

Reports

UK bulky items summary

WRAP has undertaken research to understand the composition of bulky waste in order to identify the barriers and opportunities for the re-use of bulky items across the UK. The research recorded all bulky waste, including WRAP’s priority materials of WEEE, textiles and furniture, disposed of via local authority kerbside bulky waste collections (BWC) and at Household Waste and Recycling Centres (HWRCs).

Download UK bulky waste summary >>

Furniture bulky waste summary

WRAP has undertaken research to understand the composition of bulky waste in terms of item type and re-use potential, in order to identify the barriers and opportunities for the reuse of bulky items across the UK. Items disposed of via local authority kerbside bulky waste collections (BWC) and at Household Waste and Recycling Centres (HWRCs) were included in the research.

Key points:

  • Furniture was split into large hard furniture, small hard furniture and soft furniture. Around 42% of all bulky waste in the UK is furniture. This is around 670,000 tonnes.
  • Over 20% of the furniture collected at the kerbside was assessed as being re-usable in its current condition with a further 25% assessed as re-usable with slight repair.
  • Just under 50% of the furniture collected at HWRCs was assessed as re-usable in its current condition or with slight repair. It is estimated that approximately 110,000 tonnes of furniture at HWRCs is re-usable in its current condition.
  • Due to the amount of items that arise and the tonnage, sofas and beds present a significant re-use opportunity throughout the country.

Find out more about the opportunities in re-using and recycling furniture, by downloading the full report:

Download the full report >>

Textiles bulky waste summary

WRAP has undertaken research to understand the composition of bulky waste in terms of item type and re-use potential, in order to identify the barriers and opportunities for the reuse of bulky items across the UK. Items disposed of via local authority kerbside bulky waste collections (BWC) and at Household Waste and Recycling Centres (HWRCs) were included in the research.

Key points:

  • This study defines bulky textiles as carpets, rugs and underlay (it excludes off-cuts or small rugs that can fit in a wheeled bin), mattresses, large ‘leisure textiles’ (such as tents and tarpaulins) and soft furnishings.
  • Of all bulky waste in the UK around 19% consists of textiles; this is around 310,000 tonnes.
  • 56% of all mattresses disposed of at HWRCs had visible fire safety labels. Over 25% of all mattresses were assessed as being very clean.
  • Around 20% of carpet at HWRCs was assessed through visual assessment as very clean and suitable for re-use and nearly 30% was heavily soiled and so unsuitable for re-use.

Find out more about the opportunities in re-using and recycling textiles, by downloading the full report:

Download the full report >>

WEEE bulky waste summary

WRAP has undertaken research to understand the composition of bulky waste in terms of item type and re-use potential, in order to identify the barriers and opportunities for the reuse of bulky items across the UK. Items disposed of via local authority kerbside bulky waste collections (BWC) and at Household Waste and Recycling Centres (HWRCs) were included in the research.

Key points:

  • Around 19% of all bulky waste disposed of in the UK is WEEE. This is equivalent of 310,000 tonnes.
  • 40% of WEEE items collected at HWRCs comprised of televisions.
  • Over 40% of WEEE items collected at HWRCs were visually assessed as being suitable for re-use.
  • Adding in those items that were assessed as suitable for re-use following minor repair, the figure rises to more than 60%.

Find out more about the opportunities in re-using and recycling WEEE, by downloading the full report:

Download the full report >>

Where next?

Want to know more about bulky items? Take a look at our reports, guides, tools and case studies for further information:

Reports >>
Guides >>
Tools >>
Case studies >>