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A study of the consumer habits in the use of second-hand goods in Vidzeme is completed

27.04.2023

In the study of the consumer habits in the use of second-hand goods, which was started at the end of 2022, it was concluded that the residents of Vidzeme municipalities willingly buy used textiles and construction materials, as well as donate reusable items to charity or ECO sites. Unfortunately, some of the useless goods are burned.

One of the goals set in the National Waste Management Plan of Latvia (2021 – 2028) is the reduction of the total amount of waste to be buried, considering that in 2035, the total amount of waste to be buried in the landfill cannot exceed 10% of the collected waste. In order to achieve this goal, it is necessary to look for different solutions for waste processing, the entry of recyclable packaging into the market should be facilitated and, for example, adherence to circular economy principles. One of the principles of the circular economy envisages extending the life cycle of products and goods, not throwing things into the garbage, but creating opportunities for their reuse.

To gain an understanding of the factors that influence the behaviour of residents engaging in waste management and how these factors influence the behaviour of residents regarding the use of reusable products, at the end of 2022, ZAAO, within the framework of the European Union's LIFE program integrated project “Waste To Resources Latvia - boosting regional sustainability and circularity” (LIFE Waste To Resources IP, LIFE20 IPE/LV/000014) (hereinafter referred to as Project) launched the study "Consumer motivation, habits and attitudes towards the use, repair and recycling of reusable products" (hereinafter referred to as  a Study).   

During the research, 404 representative population surveys were conducted for the residents of Alūksne, Balva, Cēsi, Gulbene, Limbažu, Madona, Saulkrasti, Smiltene, Valka, Valmiera districts as well as face-to-face interviews in 17 households. Both the questions and the obtained results were grouped by topics, obtaining data on the habits of the residents regarding the purchase, disposal, repair of reusable goods, as well as the idea of creating and operating a recycling center.

Taking into account that the choice of residents already in the store is decisive for how much waste a person will leave behind, a study of the habits of purchasing goods was carried out. The results of the study show that women most often buy used textiles (45% of respondents), while men buy used building materials (46%) and household items (79%). When it comes to the motivation to buy reusable, used goods, as the most frequent argument, respondents cite a lower price for such goods (48%), environmental considerations - to reduce pollution (23%), as well as the fact that they often buy used goods as a temporary option before purchasing a new item (22%). Among the factors justifying the purchase, it is also mentioned that it is customary to buy used goods in the family and among friends, it is more convenient and faster, and the assortment of goods in such stores is more interesting. The hygiene aspect is cited as an argument not to buy specific groups of used goods (for example, furniture, dishes), but when thinking about purchasing electrical engineering, there are doubts about its quality.

In order to reduce the amount of goods that end up in household waste, it is important not to throw away what could be useful to someone, but to give goods a "second breath" - the research participants confirmed that they are trying to do this. One of the most frequently mentioned ways is donating goods to charity. The most frequently handed over are clothes (46%), shoes (32%), various interior items, toys (28%). The results of the study also confirm that the residents understand the services of ECO Square, which accepts those types of waste that end up in recycling. Large household appliances (56%), small household appliances (39%), and construction products (27%) are most often handed over at EKO sites. Unfortunately, people still choose to burn some of the household items without realizing the overall damage caused to the environment. The most frequently mentioned things that are burned are wardrobes, chairs, tables (28%), upholstered furniture and mattresses (18%), home textiles (13%).

One of the options to prevent the product from ending up in waste is to repair it. Most of the time, people try to repair goods first, as confirmed by what researchers hear in interviews and the results of surveys, where 75% of respondents admitted that they had repaired goods. In cases where goods are not repaired, but are disposed of, the reasons are mostly as follows: the product is already worn out and can no longer be repaired (furniture, household appliances), the cost of repair exceeds the cost of purchasing a new product, there is no guarantee that the product will continue to serve well, the poor quality or price of the item does not outweigh the time, energy and money invested in repairing it.

The results of this study will be used as a basis for the implementation of the next activities of the Project, which will be aimed at creating an ecosystem that makes reuse, repair and recycling accessible and acceptable to the public by developing local models of repair and recycling centers for municipalities.

ZAAO plans to build such a center, or Vidzeme regional circular economy center, at Dzelzceļa street 5, Valmiera, in the area of the existing EKO square. The study obtained data on the residents' understanding and the potential habits of using the center, concluding that the residents do not yet have an understanding of this type of center, but the idea of ​​a circulation center seems conceptually interesting to them. After learning the principles of its operation, 68% of respondents admitted that they would be happy to use it.

Conductors of the research: "Jaunrades laboratory" Ltd. and "Solid Data" Ltd.

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