Sustainable Design Awards Toolkit

Section 2.3 Reuse

Reuse of a product or of a component for its original purpose.

This has been done for many years with milk bottles but why not for plastic bottles? People often obtain their vehicle spares cheaply from scrap dealers. However, people may feel uncomfortable buying a new car knowing that the seat cushions had been used before. Designs incorporating re-use therefore have to make sure the public will accept them.

Detergent companies carry out a widely accepted reuse programme. Consumers can buy cheaper pouches of detergent to refill the original bottle.

Xerox hiring policy cuts down on waste
Photocopiers are leased to customers and maintained by Xerox. When their service is no longer required the products are taken back, refurbished and hired (or resold) to customers for second, third and further uses. Refurbished products pass through the same assembly line as new products and are subject to the same stringent quality tests. The company is still able to maintain control over the complete manufacture, distribution and take-back of the product. When products cannot be refurbished, parts are reused or materials recycled in new products.


Charity Shop
Charity shops are very successful at reuse. They collect and sell unwanted items such as clothes, toys, gifts, books and furniture.


Secondary Use

Use of largely unaltered products for a purpose different than the first.
Two examples of 2nd year Industrial design and technology projects from Loughborough University. Loughborough University Department of Design and Technology, 1999 The students designed ways of transforming irreparable mail bags into new products:

Reusing mailbags
Third World Mosquito net by Damian Blanchard, David Hagelthorn, Mark Hirst and Christopher Mills
Bags could be stitched together using strips from a plucked bag and made to provide protection against the biggest killers in Africa.
The bags could also be reused to fence in chickens or make partitions, which would save wood.

Jackets made from postbags
The post jacket by James Partridge, Graham Randall, Lindsay Patmore and James Whitehead.
The bags are used as insulation in jackets.
The product was designed so it could be used by the Royal Mail. This would mean a market would not have to be found for the product.

Beanbag stuffed with shopping bags
The Earthchair is supplied as an empty sack, which the user stuffs with plastic bags. This interactive approach to waste helps communicate the environmental message to consumers.


Ruler made from old blinds
Aluminium 'Curva' ruler, developed by the Dutch company De Denktank.
Made from the blade of a used and discarded aluminium blind. Blinds from an aluminium tip are disassembled, cleaned, cut to shape and printed. The ruler is indestructible and can measure curved contours. The reuse extends the life cycle of aluminium, which is a very energy-intensive material to extract from the earth.

Source: How to do EcoDesign? By Tischner et al


Ecodesign Tools
2.1 Factors Influencing Companies
2.2 Reduce
2.3 Reuse
2.4 Recycling
2.5 Disassembling and analysing products
Toolkit Index
Section 1.
Sustainability Issues
Section 2.
Companies and Products
Section 3.
Ecodesign Tools
Section 4.
Inspirational current work

Photograph of Corn

Photograph Of A Landfill Site