Environment

A boost for reuse through ReMark

02/01/2019

An Irish project is seeking to boost the market for second-hand or refurbished consumer goods by testing a standard that can be applied by social enterprises, charity shops and other businesses that deal in reused products.

The aim of the standard, known as ReMark, is to foster organisational and presentational improvements in the social enterprises that typically sell second-hand goods. By displaying the ReMark logo, organisations will be able to demonstrate to consumers that the goods they sell have been through appropriate safety and quality checks. Organisations certified under ReMark also commit to meeting minimum standards in terms of their management, staffing, processes and social and environmental aims.

The pilot project is being put in place by the Dublin-based Community Reuse Network Ireland (CRNI), an umbrella body for a network of reuse, recycling and waste prevention organisations in Ireland. Funding comes from Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency. CRNI executive Claire Downey says ReMark wants to make sure that, from the consumer’s point of view, buying a reused product is as good an experience as buying a new product from a high street store.

By improving the experience of buying second hand, ReMark hopes to push up the proportion of Irish consumers who buy previously used goods. Research carried out for the project found that fewer than one in four (23%) Irish consumers had bought second hand in the previous six months, with concerns about quality and safety of second-hand goods cited as barriers to a purchase by 59% and 43% of consumers respectively. ReMark wants to “reassure consumers about the quality of second-hand goods,” says Downey.

ReMark takes as inspiration a similar initiative in Scotland, the Revolve quality standard. According to Zero Waste Scotland, which manages Revolve, the standard “gives customers the reassurance to shop second hand with confidence, knowing that the products sold have been checked and conform to modern safety standards.” The Revolve standard is appropriate for a wide range of items, including furniture, toys, electrical goods, bicycles and even industrial equipment. Revolve has spread throughout Scotland, with more than 100 organisations obtaining certification.

ReMark is in a much earlier phase than Revolve and has some way to go to catch up. Ten organisations are bidding for potential certification. By November 2018, one organisation had been formally certified, with another pending. As well as the “back of house” improvements offered by ReMark, participants receive assistance with their marketing to consumers and the way they visually communicate themselves. This will help tackle the image of second-hand shops as “jumble stores or charity shops that are a bit chaotic,” Downey says.

The first organisation to be formally certified under ReMark was Duhallow Revamp, a social initiative in the south-west Ireland town of Newmarket. Duhallow Revamp aims in particular to provide recycled and upcycled furniture to lower-income households. Alongside its social aims, Duhallow Revamp – like all reuse initiatives – seeks to promote waste prevention and find new uses for items that might otherwise end up in landfill.

Such initiatives provide a grassroots contribution to the implementation of European Union waste laws, which emphasise waste prevention and preparation for reuse as preferred options in the hierarchy of waste management. The latest revision of the EU Waste Framework Directive, finalised in early 2018, contains mandatory targets for preparation for reuse and recycling of municipal waste, rising from 55% in 2025 to 65% in 2030. The directive also includes requirements on preventing the landfilling of waste that can potentially be reused or recycled.

 

Further information:
ReMark: https://www.crni.ie/re-mark/
Revolve: https://www.zerowastescotland.org.uk/revolve
Duhallow Revamp: http://www.irdduhallow.com/community-services/duhallow-revamp/