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Good 360 seeks industry-led solution for excess goods

good 360 excess goods

Australia’s National Waste policy has directed a lot of attention to how products are manufactured and recycled at end-of-life. But what happens to products that never make it off the shelf?

There are $2.5 billion of excess goods that are never used, let alone enter the recycling chain, according to a report by Deloitte Access Economics, commissioned by not-for-profit Good360 Australia.

For the past seven years, Alison Covington, Good360 Australia Founder and Managing Director, has been connecting excess new goods to more than 3000 charities and disadvantaged schools. They’ve put more than 30 million goods in the hands of people in need.

Now Alison wants to scale up the program and increase industry partnerships so that donation of excess goods is an essential part of a responsible supply chain.

Alison has made submissions to the Federal Government for $25 million funding over five years for an education campaign to help create an industry-led solution.

“There’s a missing bit in Australia’s waste policy about pre-consumer goods,” she says. “There’s a lot on manufacturing and how to recycle, but there’s no attention on what happens if the goods don’t sell.

“We’re at a turning point where a lot of businesses are building sustainability into their practices. Over the course of five years, we can help them build a pathway for pre-consumer goods into their supply chain.

“We could circulate $1 billion of goods into the community by 2025 to help Australians in need.”

Good360 commissioned the Deloitte report to help show the size of the problem within Australia, and the benefits a scheme such as Good360 brings to the community.

good360 excess goods
Alison Covington, Good360 Australia Founder and Managing Director

The report found many categories of excess goods, including seasonal items, such as toys, cosmetics, toiletries and clothing, essentially go to waste if they are not sold by the end of the season. Unfortunately, a large portion of unsold goods often end up in landfill.

Wing Hsieh, Deloitte Access Economics Associate Director and report co-author, says: “Each year around $2.5 billion worth of household goods are not sold by retailers or essentially ‘go to waste’ according to our analysis. There is a significant opportunity for those goods to be redirected away from waste and into the homes of families and schools that need them – particularly as we estimate that in 2021, governments across Australia gave between $270 million and $410 million to charities to purchase household goods for vulnerable clients.”

The report states there’s a clear opportunity to reuse excess unsold goods in place of the purchase of new goods by charities. “Doing so offers up the potential for a dual benefit of reduced waste and savings for governments and charities,” it states. 

“Government is already funding charities to buy these exact same goods,” Alison says. “If they fund us with just a portion of that we could put millions of dollars into the community. For every $5 we could give them $100 worth of goods.”

The Australian Retailers Association has backed the Good360 model and in its 2022-23 pre-budget submission recommended that the federal environment minister’s priority list for product stewardship be expanded to include pre-consumer waste.

Alison has built up partnerships with leading brands in Australia who, she says, are looking for a solution for excess stock.

While in the early days of Good360 Alison was knocking on retailer doors asking for excess stock many are now reaching out to her. With help from brand partners Good360 has recently helped get more than $7million of goods into flood-hit areas of New South Wales and Queensland.

She is still staggered by the amount of goods that could be connected to people in need. For her, it’s not just about the waste but making a difference to someone in need.

“I can’t imagine all of these goods going to waste while there are Australians living in poverty,” she says. “We can feed somebody when they’re hungry, but it doesn’t change their outcome. They’re hungry again within a few hours. But if we can give them material goods, it could change their outcome and make them feel equal in society.

“These goods could change somebody’s life. It could help get them an education or employment or the shelter they need. But the cycle doesn’t get broken if all these goods go to landfill.

“Good360 is good for people and the planet.” 

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