The Living Landscape of Reuse Solutions database is a regularly updated global list of for profit and nonprofit programs and campaigns that provide reusable solutions to eliminate waste.

Reuse and Reusable Solutions

Reuse is the highest value "R" in the circular economy hierarchy: the more times an item can be reused before the end of its useful life, the lower its footprint-per-use is (assuming efficient, low GHG logistics and washing).

Reusable products or packages must be designed to be repeatedly reused for the same purpose for which they were originally created. (Informal reuse, like storing LEGO in yogurt tubs, is of course encouraged but does not qualify the yogurt tubs as a reusable package.) 

bike lady (2).png
bike lady.png

A reusable system, or solution, is the supporting organization, process, and/or enabling technology and infrastructure that together facilitate the circulation of the reusable product or package.

Examples of reusable systems include:

  • A program that allows you to borrow a cup from a local coffee shop and return it across town when you are done, to be cleaned and restocked at the coffee shop.

  • A refill station in your local supermarket for shampoo and other personal care products.

  • An app that rewards you when you fill your own water bottle rather than buying a disposable one.

10 Facts About Reuse 

  1. Switching to reuse can save 8 billion metric tons of CO2, 2% of the remaining carbon budget.

  2. Recycling and reuse creates between 9 and 30 times more jobs than landfills and incinerators.

  3. Increasing the market share of refillable bottles by 10% in all coastal countries in place of single-use throwaway PET bottles could reduce PET bottle marine plastic pollution by 22%. And a 20% increase in refillable market share of glass and PET bottles in place of single-use throwaway PET bottles could reduce marine plastic pollution by 39%.

  4. Reusables have a 50% savings in GHG emissions over single-use plastic bottles.

  5. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimated that converting 20% of global disposable plastic packaging into reusable packaging is a $10 billion opportunity.

  6. Reusable glass packaging solutions can emit almost 85% fewer greenhouse gases less than single-use glass packaging solutions, and with sufficient reuse cycles they can also significantly outperform the emissions footprint of single-use PET bottle solutions.

  7. Research by Upstream found that reusable food serviceware beats single-use alternatives by every environmental measure.  

  8. A meta analysis of LCA studies from UNEP found that the breakeven point for reusable cups, the number of times reusable cup needs to be used for the impact to be similar or better than a single-use cup, is well within the assumed life span of reusable cups for both hot and hold drinks

  9. Refillable bottles were introduced by Coca-Cola in the 1940s. According to market data covering the global nonalcoholic beverages industry, refillable systems are currently in place in 94 countries.

  10. There is still much to do to make reuse mainstream. Less than 2% of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Global Commitment signatories’ plastic packaging is reusable, and more than half of all signatories report 0% reusable plastic packaging.