We choose reuse

13.12.23 01:18 PM By WasteMINZ

This new reuse blog, We Choose Reuse, brings you stories from the frontlines of reuse, in the hope it provides inspiration to others. We will be publishing this blog on a quarterly basis so send any reuse initiatives to sarahp@wasteminz.org.nz to be included in the next one.

​The Reuse Revolution

The term reuse can be misused. Sometimes reuse or reusable is used when an item is being repurposed. The Reuse Working Group has arrived at a definition of reuse (based on definitions used globally) which stresses the importance of a system that enables reuse.  

Resue means the repeated or continual use of products or components in their existing form, for the same purpose for which they were originally conceived, without the need for significant alteration, thereby extending the lifespan of those products or components and replacing the need for new products or components. 

To be reused, products or components may or may not require preparation for reuse between uses. 

​Aotea – Great Barrier Island goes single-use cup free

This spring, Aotea took a significant step to showcase a commitment to care for Papatūānuku and minimise waste with almost all coffee outlets no longer offering single use coffee cups. 

But how was this achieved?

Six months ago the idea of eliminating single use cups was raised, with Anamata Resource Recovery Centre’s large solar system meaning a washing service could be offered to retailers (Aotea is off grid and all businesses provide their own power requirements). Coffee retailers were invited to a presentation to launch the idea of eliminating single use cups and to provide feedback. The retailers were overwhelmingly supportive and the plan was hatched to launch it on 1 October, before the busy season but with a few months lead time to get ready. Anamata committed to purchasing and installing a dishwasher. There are now two, with one kindly donated by Wairau Zero Waste Hub.         

Support for the project was also received from the Packaging Forum, the Local Board and a Community Broker.          

Lots and lots of folks are choosing to use our mug library and loving it. It's easy and they get to pick their cup and then sit outside and enjoy their hot brew. If not the mug library, almost everyone has remembered their keep cup and that's been a really great shift to see and a really lovely vibe. -  Adrienne at Baked on Barrier. 

The cups 

For the reusable cup system. the retailers had requested stackable, unbreakable, reasonably priced, easy to hold, burn free, standard size, non-plastic cups and Chunky Cups best met the requirements. Anamata purchases cups from Chunky in bulk and holds them in stock to distribute to the retailers as required. Customers pay a $10 deposit to use the Chunky Cup system. 

Anamata also offered ceramic mug libraries and several use these as well as Chunky Cups so people can use a mug for free. A community mug drive and donations from Auckland Community Recycling Centres stocked the mug libraries. 

Anamata collects Chunky cups and mug library cups from at least one retailer daily and washes and returns them. 

Support from the community 

Aotea transport providers have jumped on board to ensure  visitors are aware and included in the reusable cup initiative. In particular, Island Aviation has purchased labelled keep cups to offer to passengers and Barrier Air has a promo on their screen at Auckland Airport. 

Without the support from the community, the reusable cups project wouldn’t have been possible. The whole of island team spirit for this initiative is inspiring, and Aotea is clearly a community with a great love and care for people and place - something to be proud of. 


Green Bottle, in partnership with Auckland Council and Waiōrea Community Recycling Centre ran a pilot reuse project over the month of November. The two part project meant people could either fill a crate with whatever type of container they would like to see be offered as a reusable container, and/or complete a survey, which asked respondents what container they would like to reuse in future and how likely they would be to use a reusable system. 

91% of the 234 respondents said they would like to return some of their empty drink bottles and cans for reuse over recycling if this was possible, with wine, beer and milk being the top three beverage types people want to see refilled. Over 50% of people also said all beverages should be included in a refillable option.  

Most of the respondents would like to see the council incorporate the return of bottles in a crate alongside the existing commingled recycling, paid for by rates. A Container Return Scheme was the distant second most popular option.  Any councils out there also willing to take up this challenge?  

​Project uplift

Since February 2022, EcoCentral has been collecting bras as part of the Project Uplift Initiative (https://www.projectuplift.org.nz/). To date, EcoCentral has collected approximately 1200 bras that otherwise would have gone to landfill. 

Project Uplift has been operating since 2005 and send their bras all around the world and NZ to provide comfort and confidence to women. The EcoShop (EcoCentral’s reuse and resale business) is one of the hubs in Christchurch for the public to drop their unwanted bras. In addition to this, it accepts clothing at its three Resource Recovery Centres, providing a great avenue to give perfectly serviceable items another life. 

This is such a great project and demonstrates how easy it is to support communities as well as avoiding sending usable goods to landfill.                


New Zealand company Kathmandu has launched a pilot programme to collect, clean, repair and refurbish products to be sold in-store, in two Melbourne Kathmandu stores. 

Kathman-REDU is backed by a grant from Sustainability Victoria’s Innovation Fund, via the Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre (CEBIC).

The items are a mixture of those dropped off by customers and faulty items that may have otherwise been sold at a discounted price. The only question is, when will this be coming to Aotearoa?  

This blog is proudly brought to you by the WasteMINZ Reuse Working Group. The Reuse Working Group is an initiative of the Product Stewardship Sector Group but is supported by other WasteMINZ sector groups. Its main purpose is to raise the profile of reuse and make it more talked about than recycling. Next time two would be Prime Ministers share what action they take to reduce their carbon footprint we want them to say reuse!