The Economies of Reuse Continue to Gain Traction

As Economies of Reuse Continue to Gain Favor and Broader Acceptance, as Evidenced by New ISRI Policy, Reusable Packaging Should Benefit

Click on image for more detail. The shortest, most desireable loops are focused on reuse and sharing, then refurbishment and remanufacturing.

Click on image for more detail. The shortest, most desireable loops are focused on reuse and sharing, then refurbishment and remanufacturing.

Recently we talked about how reuse (in the broad sense, rather than specifically packaging) is embraced as an important component of the Circular Economy. The value of reuse continues to gain traction. Latest case in point is the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), which has passed a Right to Reuse policy. There are often barriers to effective refurbishment and reuse, such as digital locks, parts or proprietary tools, etc. The potential influence of this major industry association in regards to eliminating these barriers opens the door for exciting possibilities with respect to product reuse.

At its Winter Board of Directors Meeting, ISRI formally adopted a policy in support of recyclers’ ability to reuse products, and the benefits of reusing.

“More and more traditional recycling companies are diversifying their business models to include reuse,” said Robin Wiener, president of ISRI. “It is essential that they have the legal protections in place that allows the lawful repair and return of these products to the marketplace. This policy allows ISRI to advocate for such protections.”

The policy states:

ISRI members across the commodity spectrum rely on reusing goods and products, including electronics equipment, automotive parts, and tires, as part of their business models. Reuse provides an excellent environmental and economic benefit. Despite these benefits, product manufacturers limit the ability of recyclers to legitimately reuse products; for example, by limiting parts and parts information, manuals, and utilizing digital locks that impede a product’s reuse. These practices inhibit every recyclers’ right to return products and goods back into the marketplace for legitimate reuse. Consumers should have access to cost-effective alternatives to new products and replacement parts. As global resources become more constrained, the right to reuse should be fully supported.

As such ISRI supports policy that recognizes:

  • Used products destined for reuse are not waste;
  • Provided that the recycler is not prohibited by individual contracts, recyclers have the right to reuse and remarket products they lawfully own or are remarketing as agents of owners (consignment inventory);
  • Recyclers should be able to bypass technological protection measures (digital locks) that prevent reuse; and
  • Recyclers should have convenient and affordable access to, but not limited to, repair manuals, parts and parts information, schematics, diagnostic software, the tools that are necessary for safe and responsible repair and the information to safely handle and reuse certain products, such as airbags

This is another early signal of a societal shift towards recognizing the value of reuse, and hopefully, this will additionally translate into a better appreciation of reusable packaging.