Reuse: Using Something Over Again

reuse-2Reuse is, simply, using something again. Reuse maximizes the resource, energy, design, engineering, manufacturing, and distribution value of an item by extending its life and eliminates the need for a new item, saving money and reducing environmental impact. Like reusing, renting or repairing items can help prevent the purchase or use of new goods. The reuse sector has a positive impact on the Minnesota economy, employing 46,000 people and generating $4 billion in gross sales annually as of 2011.

Consider whether you can reuse materials in your own process or whether another business might be able to use your materials. Reuse can take place in any part of your business, from reusing office supplies to reusing manufacturing byproducts as an input in another process. For example, Fairview Health Services established reuse stores in three hospitals and two office buildings and encouraged staff to take from the reuse stores before ordering new supplies. In the first phase of implementation (about two years), the company saved more than $1 million in office supply costs, saved $300,000 in furniture costs, and reduced waste by 32,000 pounds.

A great resource for finding, selling, or donating used materials and goods is the Minnesota Materials Exchange. This website links organizations that have reusable goods they no longer need to others who can use them. Consider whether your waste can be reused in your own process or by another organization via the exchange.

In 2004, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) adopted rules related to the beneficial use of solid waste in order to save landfill space, reduce the use of raw materials, reduce disposal costs, and potentially generate profits for organizations through sale of materials. For example, unadulterated newspaper may be used as animal bedding, insulation, or as a substitute for paper products. More information on this program can be found on the MPCA’s Solid Waste Utilization webpages.