One of the main barriers to donation of items for re-use is a lack of knowledge about what services are available or a lack of facilities for donation. Local authorities can encourage donation by providing information about donation options and also be supporting the re-use organisations who will receive the donations.

Common barriers to donation of items for re-use include:
  • entrenched disposal habits
  • activities can be seen as time consuming
  • lack of knowledge about services available
  • lack of knowledge about where to donate
  • lack of knowledge about where the activities take place
  • lack of facilities for donation

In order to encourage donation of items, and divert items from the waste stream, it is essential to break down these barriers through information provision and communications. This can be done by providing details of services and donation facilities available on local authority websites. Messaging can also be built into communications campaigns.

Work also needs to be done to develop services and support partners so that there are accessible options available for people with items to donate.

Donation options:

Charities, some of whom operate shops (e.g. Scope, Oxfam) and community re-use initiatives already deal with various types of used goods that would otherwise become waste. This involves collection from various sources, some sorting, sometimes repair and then redistribution, direct to end-users or via a ‘shop’ or warehouse. Some schemes operate very locally while others operate regionally or nationally. They may work alone, or in a partnership.  

The Furniture Re-use Network (FRN) is the national body which supports, assists and develops charitable re-use organisations across the UK. The FRN works with its members, policy makers, the public and commercial sectors to bring social, economic and environmental benefit through the re-use of unwanted household items.

Scrapstores make unwanted resources from businesses available for childrens’ craft and art projects. Scrapstores provide an opportunity for businesses to dispose of their unwanted items without having to send them to landfill. Reuseful UK was set up by scrapstores to support the re-use of unwanted resources for the benefit of children and communities. Reuseful UK gathers and shares information about issues, barriers, opportunities, good practice, achievements, promotions and publications. 

Community RePaint schemes collect unwanted, surplus paint and re-distribute it to individuals, families and communities in need, improving the wellbeing of people and the appearance of places across the UK. Community Repaint schemes will collect unsold paint and mis-tints from DIY retailers and trade centres, and/or surplus, leftover and reusable paint from Household Waste Recycling Centres, as well as from painters and decorators and waste disposal companies. The paint is sorted and stored at a scheme’s premises and then made available, at a small cost, to a large variety of community groups, sports clubs, housing association tenants, charities, as well as individuals and families. 

Tools for Self Reliance (TFSR) is an organisation which collects and sends unwanted tools and sewing machines to countries in Africa where local people can develop craft businesses and thus become self-reliant. Together with the tools, TFSR also provides training to those who need it to help more people work their way out of poverty.