EME 807
Technologies for Sustainability Systems

5.6. Reuse and redistribution programs

Reuse is the second level of the national solid waste management hierarchy. Reuse is simply repeated using a product or component in its original form. For example, using a glass milk bottle multiple times within the producer – customer chain (instead of using a plastic bottle).

Reuse also means that materials and products are redistributed from one who no longer needs them to those who can still find use in the items. The benefit of reuse is not only in conservation of valuable natural resources but also in getting materials and products to disadvantaged people and organizations.

US EPA provides grant funding to Reuse Development Organization Inc. (ReDO), a non-profit organization whose mission is "to promote reuse as an environmentally sound, socially beneficial, and economical means for managing surplus and discarded materials. The ReDO company website provides some background on the issue.

example of re-distribution programs. pile of shoes surrounded by orphanage children
Program Soles4Souls redistributes mildly used shoes to schools in developing countries
Credit: Soles4Souls

Here are a few examples of successful material reuse programs, which you may want to become familiar with:

  1. "The Material Reuse Program actively salvages buildings on the University of Georgia campus as well as Athens region and reuses materials on community-based and student design projects. The Program is located on South Milledge at the Old Ostrich Farm and former recycling facility. Since its inception in May of 2011, hundreds of cubic yards of waste have been salvaged and put back into the community."
  2. "Soles 4 Souls" nation-wide program that has a mission "fighting the devastating impact and perpetuation of poverty through the distribution of shoes and clothing... Most new items collected primarily from corporations and retailers are given directly to people in need, both in the U.S. and overseas. The organization has relationships with several of the world’s leading apparel brands, which provides Soles4Souls with new but non-marketable overstocks, returns, discontinued models and other shoes or clothing items."
  3. Cooling pack reuse program: Employees of a medical facility initiated a program to divert reusable cooling packs from trash. Cooling packs are very common supplies that are used to keep the medical samples cooled for transportation. They were normally discarded once samples arrive at the facility, which has stationary refrigeration system. The program established a few routes to reuse the packs while helping local food banks.