Recycle and Reuse Programs
Reusing items, by repairing them, donating them to charity or community groups, or selling them, not only reduces waste but reduces their need to be reprocessed before they can be used again. One such program that utilizes re-use and is increasingly popular is "free-cycling." With this technique, individuals post notices on free-cycling internet sites, offering to give people opportunities to reuse materials that would otherwise be slated for disposal.
Reuse programs provide the following benefits:
- Energy Conservation: Reuse programs inherently conserve energy through a reduction in the use of natural resources both in the initial creation of products, and also in a reduction in associated transportation costs and fuel consumption needed to reintroduce the product to market.
- Reduction in Landfill Waste: Reuse programs reduce the amount of waste that needs to be recycled into another product or sent to landfills.
- Reduces Demand for New Resources: Reuse programs reduce the demand for new natural resources in the production and transportation of new products.
- Can Serve Disadvantaged Residents: Reuse programs can provide clothing, building materials, business equipment, and other items to disadvantaged members of a community.
The following issues need to be considered when developing a reuse program:
- Care in Selecting Items for Reuse: Items being offered for reuse must be legal, safe and in good condition.
- Logistical Difficulties: Certain items, such as furniture or electronics, require greater logistics for reuse.
- Administration: Reuse programs can require additional municipal or volunteer staff time.
There are many existing reuse/free-cycling programs in the Chester County region. Individuals interested in participating in these programs, or those interested in establishing their own reuse programs, can to the following websites:
- Chester County Freecycle
- The West Chester Freecycle Group
- The Freecycle Network
- Northeast Recycling Council
- Reuse Alliance
- West Chester University Sustainability Initiative
Act 247, the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC) permits municipalities to address energy conservation as part of a comprehensive plan. Section 301.1 of the MPC states that a municipal comprehensive plan may include an energy conservation plan element, which systematically analyzes the impact of each component and element of the comprehensive plan on the present and future use of energy. Reuse and recycling can represent an important part of an energy conservation plan.
One of the solid and hazardous waste management policies of Landscapes2, the 2009 Chester County Comprehensive Plan, is to promote technologies and techniques that reduce consumption of natural resources, and reuse and recycle waste materials. Landscapes2 also encourages citizens to reuse materials, donate materials to charitable organizations, and participate in free-cycle groups. Energy conservation is also an important part of Landscapes2, and reuse programs contribute to the efficient use of resources.