Brisbane-based social enterprise the World’s Biggest Garage Sale (WBGS) is set to become a national force in the circular economy after Officeworks acquired a 21 per cent interest in the group.
WBGS will be rebranded as Circonomy, a national recovery and repair service, as Officeworks moves to step up its strategy of becoming a zero-waste business.
The move follows a three-year association with WBGS for Officeworks that the Wesfarmers (ASX: WES) subsidiary says demonstrated the environmental, social and financial opportunities of a circular economy which is estimated to grow to $4.5 trillion globally by 2030.
Officeworks has previously collaborated with WBGS to repair and repurpose imperfect or damaged furniture from its stock range in a bid to minimise the environmental impact of waste.
“Over the last three years, we have partnered with WBGS to help us achieve our vision of contributing to a more circular economy and becoming a zero-waste business,” says Officeworks managing director Sarah Hunter.
“Together we have demonstrated a feasible model to collect, repair, repurpose and resell damaged or customer returned products. We’re excited to replicate and scale this model across Australia.”
WBGS, founded in 2013 by Yasmin Grigaliunas after a single garage sale to sell unwanted household goods, has grown into a multimillion-dollar social enterprise that repairs, repurposes and resells imperfect and unwanted products.
Hunter sees Circonomy growing beyond its existing collection and repair service for furniture and office supplies to become a key solution to repurpose a range of products in the retail sector. The market is huge with repairs and returns for Australian retailers estimated to account for more than 10 per cent of stock, much of it generally going to waste.
“We believe that, in time, this can be a solution that is much more widely adopted across the retail sector as a way to divert waste from landfill, extend product lifecycles, and ultimately build domestic repair and remanufacturing capability,” says Hunter.
Circonomy, the first program of its kind in the country to cater for businesses and consumers, is expected to initially create 70 jobs through the establishment of circular economy precincts across Australia. The centres will facilitate the resale of dormant or second-hand goods and provide businesses with responsible waste management practices for its products.
“We know that consumers want to see a more sustainable retail industry, including the reuse and repair of everyday products, rather than their disposal into the waste stream,” says Grigaliunas, the CEO of WBGS.
“Our partnership with Officeworks will allow us to broaden our service offering both geographically and in the products we can repair, and will provide a model for other businesses to follow our lead.”
WBGS estimates it has diverted 4,000 tonnes of potential landfill since it began operations.
Help us deliver quality journalism to you.
As a free and independent news site providing daily updates
during a period of unprecedented challenges for businesses everywhere
we call on your support