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SA council creates circular economy with reuse marketplace

The City of Mount Gambier council has taken the reuse market into its own hands by creating a second-hand shop, which has resulted in 60 tonnes of waste being diverted from landfill since it opened in October 2018.

City of Mount Gambier environmental sustainability officer, Aaron Izzard, said the reuse market is an example of creating a circular economy that could easily be adopted by other councils, depending on what resources they have.

The Mount Gambier reuse market was designed to be aesthetically appealing, uncluttered and affordable for all.

Money made at the reuse centre is currently going back into running the facility, but Izzard said this should pay itself off within three years.

“If we can get it to cover its cost, we can provide the benefits to the community.

“Most things are very cheap, you can get things for 20 cents, you can get a new toaster for a few dollars,” Izzard said.

“We deliberately keep prices low, to turn product over, but also so people who don’t have much money can still afford the items. It’s probably the only place in town you can go to with loose change and come out with an armful of goods,” he said.

While many facilities like this are run by not-for-profits, this one is council owned and operated as Izzard said the council could not find a not-for-profit that shared its vision.

“We wanted it to be stylish, attractive to the community and affordable. Having it council owned and operated gives us full control.

“There was a salvage yard in town a number of years ago, which was operated by a not-for-profit, but it folded. After numerous years of investigations and due diligence we resolved to run the new facility ourselves,” Izzard explained.

The reuse centre stocks anything from furniture to gardening equipment, which council staff select through items community members bring to the transfer station next to the shop.

Izzard said this insures no rubbish is dumped and the council can choose items that can be sold.

The shop is only open twice a month as the council wants to insure it is full of quality items for sale, rather than having few items for shoppers to purchase every day, Izzard explained.

“Because we are only open a limited number of days a month, it’s a bit like an event. People just rush in.

“The most common criticism is probably that they want it open more often. We want it to be full of interesting items.”

The City of Mount Gambier has created a reuse market.

Similar concepts have been taken up by organisations such as the World’s Biggest Garage Sale and the Garage Sale Trail who both host annual pop-up shops for second-hand goods nationwide.

Garage Sale Trail indicated that in 2018, almost 350,000 Australians participated in the organisation’s 18,000 events and 3.2 million kgs of items were kept out of landfill.

At the Waste 2019 conference at Coffs Harbour, Garage Sale Trail general manager, Barbara Gill, said that in order to create an effective circular economy, there needs to be collaboration between industry and society.

“If we can collaborate and get a shared vision and together we can then motivate lots of people to take simple action, we can have a big impact.”

The World’s Biggest Garage Sale has a similar concept and it has raised $314,000 over the past five years for many charity benefactors.

The organisation also hosts pop-up events, which promote a circular economy through the reuse of unused goods that risk ending up in landfill. Since starting in 2013, the World’s Biggest Garage Sale has diverted more than 3.3 million kgs of goods from landfill.