Reuse: Using Something Over Again
Reuse 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.
- A Study of the Economic Activity of Minnesota’s Reuse, Repair and Rental Sectors (MPCA): A study to better understand the economics associated with reuse
- Minnesota Materials Exchange: Links organizations that have reusable goods they no longer need to others who can use them.
- ReUSE Minnesota: A trade association focused on bringing visibility to the reuse, rental, and repair sector through networking, publicity, and events.
- Reusable Industrial Packaging Association calculator: The RIPA “Green Packaging Calculator” helps calculate carbon footprints associated with the use of new vs. reconditioned industrial packaging
- COMPASS – Comparitive Packaging Assessment is a cloud based software application for packaging designers and engineers to assess the human and environmental impacts of their package design using Life Cycle Analysis (LCA).
- Use Reusables: Resources related to reusable transport packaging, including a tool to compare the cost of reusable and one-time-use packaging.
- State of Minnesota Surplus Services in Arden Hills