FCC Environment research shows public support for re-use shops at household waste recycling centres

FCC Environment/YouGov poll has revealed that the public are keen to buy a wide variety of quality, second-hand items from their local household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) – doing good for the environment, for local charities and the community in the process.

The survey comes at a time when many people have had a ‘COVID clearout’ and have tried to find new homes for pre-loved but unwanted belongings that still have plenty of life left in them. Its findings show that most people like to buy second-hand items and many do so regularly – that some of the same people regularly use their local HWRCs and want to be able to buy second-hand items when they visit.

Announcing the research at this year’s LARAC Annual Conference, FCC Environment’s Operational Director Steve Longdon said: “Our results give local authorities, plenty of scope to open more reuse shops at their facilities. Many of these councils have declared climate emergencies, acknowledging their need to act on the causes and impacts of climate change in their bid to help meet Net Zero targets. More reuse shops at HWRCs – similar to those already working successfully across the country selling goods, from everyday items to the extraordinary – can be one more step in the right direction.

“At our award-winning HWRCs, our focus on re-use is both climate- and community-friendly, reducing waste and providing training opportunities, as well as offering quality second-hand goods at a fraction of their normal price, often benefitting local charities. A re-use shop really is a win for everyone.”

FCC Environment currently operates nine re-use shops at its HWRCs across the country, working with its local authority and charity partners – including: Buckinghamshire Council and South Bucks Hospice; Suffolk County Council and The Benjamin Foundation; Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Councils and Doncaster Refurnish; Hull City Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council and Dove House Hospice; Warwickshire County Council and Mary Ann Evans Hospice; Wrexham County Borough Council and Nightingale House Hospice; and Neath Port Talbot Council and Enfys Foundation.


The FCC Environment/YouGov poll aligns with a clear Government focus on re-use alongside repair and remanufacture as part of its Resource and Waste Strategy, which states the need to encourage more reuse through HWRCs and contracts with charities.

The Government strategy sets out how reuse keeps viable products in active use for longer, helps to preserve natural resources, avoids carbon emissions caused when new products are made / distributed, and minimises the impact of dealing with waste – while helping those who are less able to afford new provisions: “When items arrive at HWRCs it’s an opportunity to identify and segregate good quality products that are suitable for reuse. Some local authorities already do so to excellent effect, and there are also good examples of collaborative working with charities. Overall, however, there is considerable scope for being more ambitious.”

The national Litter Strategy also emphasises reuse – particularly that of packaging – as a key feature in its drive to prevent public littering and clean up our country.

FCC Environment re-use survey findings:

  • The majority (74%) of respondents buy second-hand items
  • Many (42%) buy second-hand items at least once every six months or more
  • Nearly a third (32%) of respondents use their local HWRC at least once every 2-3 months, or more often
  • Only a minority of respondents (16%) know that their local HWRC has a re-use shop. The majority (84%) either don’t have one (40%), or are not aware if there is one (45%)
  • Nearly half (44%) of respondents who know their local HWRC has a re-use shop have bought items from this shop
  • The most popular purchases among respondents who know their local HWRC has a re-use shop are: garden items (18%), furniture (16%); other household items including glass and chinaware (14%). Toys (9%) and clothes (5%) are not as popular
  • The majority (54%) of respondents would be likely to buy from a re-use shop at their local HWRC if good quality second-hand items were available for a low price
  • Books are the items most respondents (40%) would buy, plus garden items (39%), furniture (38%) and other household items (31%). Other items that respondents would be keen to buy include tools and DIY materials; CDs and vinyl records, DVDs and Blu-rays, video games and consoles; musical instruments; and even classic car parts!

FCC Environment

Views expressed are those of the blogger and not necessarily those of LARAC