The EPA has published the final report of a major CTC research study: Qualifying and Quantifying the Reuse Sector in Ireland (Q2REUSE). This report outlines the findings of a study led by CTC, with partners: Community Resources Network Ireland (CRNI), The Rediscovery Centre and The Eastern Midlands Waste Region. The project (2018-RE-MS-17), commissioned by the EPA, took place between 2018-2021.

The authors and researchers were: Colum Gibson (CTC), Keelin Tobin (CTC), Claire Downey (CRNI), Sarah Miller (TRC), Laura Niessen, (TRC), Roberta Bellini (TRC) and Tadhg Coakley (CTC).

The outputs of this research now provide Ireland with a methodology to effectively measure reuse in the future – thus facilitating Ireland to meet any reuse targets which may be imposed by the EU to meet the goals of the circular economy. The main point at which to measure this has been defined and the data to be collected have been identified. Product categories for measurement have been established and subcategories recommended.

A series of recommendations to facilitate and improve the application of this methodology have also been included. A key outcome noted is that, as any requirement to measure or report reuse data will introduce a burden on the sector, it will need support (financial and/or technical). Other measurement and policy recommendations have also been included based on input from stakeholders and examples of best practice.

Initially, the research team carried out an international best practice review in 10 countries. The results showed that, while some regions were advanced in the measurement of reuse, others were at an early stage. Best practice examples were noted and informed the project’s methodology and recommendations.

The project developed and extensive set of qualifying and quantifying data on reuse in Ireland. Based on parameters imposed by the EU definition of reuse, a decision tree was developed to explore reuse in Ireland and, from this, a database of reuse practitioners was produced. This was populated using existing networks of reuse practitioners and through a comprehensive structured online search. This resulted in the identification of 1276 reuse practitioners in Ireland. Of these, 48.1% were identified as charity/not-for- profit organisations and 46.7% were commercial businesses, with the others being public bodies and “other”. The product category most frequently handled by these operators was bric-a-brac, followed by clothing, media (e.g. books), other textiles, non-antique jewellery, bicycles and other.

A representative subset of the full database was then surveyed, with the profile of respondents broadly reflecting the national breakdown of reuse practitioners. This provided a detailed qualitative overview of the operations of reuse organisations in Ireland. Subsequently, a subset of respondents were interviewed in more detail to gather quantitative data. This approach also allowed a more detailed exploration of the qualitative responses to the initial survey, and these provided valuable sectoral insights on the future of measuring reuse nationally.

In 2019, an estimated 20.61 million units were sold or exchanged, equating to an estimated 27,983 tonnes of reused products. In 2020 an estimated 26.186 million units were sold or exchanged, representing an estimated 31,990 tonnes of reused products. It is important to note that the 2019 dataset is incomplete, as no estimates for online exchanges or media specialist stores were available. Furthermore, the 2020 figure was affected by the COVID-19 restrictions on retail, which meant that reuse outlets were closed for much of the year. Therefore, a direct comparison of the data for 2019 and 2020 could not be made.

For more information about this project contact Colum Gibson.

Further information and deliverables available below.