Study highlights interest, obstacles for reuse sector

Study highlights interest, obstacles for reuse sector

By Bobby Elliott, E-Scrap News

Oct. 25, 2013

A recent U.K. study on consumer attitudes toward reuse services offered by major retailers indicates that there is growing interest in the sector, especially if it can be strengthened.

The Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) asked 1,815 recent purchasers of new electrical products in Great Britain to gauge their potential interest in four reuse services: repair, renting, second-hand and trade-in. Interest in each service was measured in relationship to three basic electrical product categories: household appliances ("workhorse products," such as refrigerators and washing machines); consumer electronics ("up-to-date products," such as laptops and tablets); and DIY and gardening products (such as electrical drills and hedge trimmers).

While the study shows that interest in new products continues to trump interest in used ones, it did reveal some encouraging news: that consumers are at least considering the reuse option. "Overall, the research has demonstrated that most consumers are open to the idea of using the models," the study states while stressing that the models would need to be improved to actually persuade consumers to use them.

According to the study, three-quarters of respondents would be likely to use trade-in services for up-to-date and electrical DIY and gardening products. Approximately two-thirds of consumers added they would consider using repair services for electrical DIY and gardening products. More than half said they would be open to renting the items.

When it comes to second-hand purchases, a majority of respondents expressed interest in purchasing items if they had been repaired by a "preferred provider." Consumers remained lukewarm about the idea when it came to consumer electronics and workhorse products, preferring to purchase new products instead.

The study concluded that the biggest obstacle standing in the way of making reuse services a broader success, at least in Great Britain, lies in changing long-standing consumer habits and preferences for new items and a somewhat surprising tendency to hold on to old products past use.

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