The backstory is that I've been working up a business plan for the past few months around a facility to receive, resell and recycle bulky goods.
The plan is built off my 15 years of experience in running waste facilities, and so I think I have a pretty good feel for the industry. Based on this feel, I think there is enormous potential for a waste receival site that aims to send little or nothing to landfill.
My experience was as good as confirmed by a study recently published by WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme, from the UK) into bulky waste. This study suggests that there is a strong business case for a waste facility that separates and reuses bulky waste.
According to the data collected, 39 kg/hh/yr of bulky waste was delivered each year to waste facilities. Of this, 42% is furniture, 19% textiles and 19% e-waste.
Here is where it gets interesting. Of the total waste received at the site, 32% is reusable as is. With no repair. The reuse percentage increases to 51% being reusable with slight repairs.
Note that this is only what can be reused. There is another substantial category of waste that cannot be reused, but can be readily dismantled and the components recycled.
So work through the numbers. For a population of 100,000 households, there are 3,900 tonnes of bulky waste per year. Of that, about 2,000 tonnes can be resold with some minor repairs. Much of the remaining 1,900 tonnes can be dismantled and recycled too, but we'll leave that to one side for the purposes of this discussion.
Considering just the resalable, even if you sold it at a bargain basement price of $1.00/kg (ie a 20 kg bookcase going for just $20), then there are $2m worth of reusable goods being destroyed each year simply because there isn't the infrastructure to appropriately collect, repair and resell. Even worse, at $100/tonne, the landfill fees on the resalable goods represent a further $200,000 in costs.
|Second hand bookcase, from Second Hand Furniture|