Officeworks acquires stake in closed loop repair, repurpose and resale enterprise, accelerating the transition to a circular economy
Officeworks has acquired a significant stake in Brisbane-based social enterprise, the World’s Biggest Garage Sale (WBGS) as part of the company’s response to changing customer needs and its ongoing commitment to sustainability.
Since starting as a simple garage sale in 2013, WBGS has grown to a multi-million-dollar social enterprise that drives profit for a purpose by repairing, repurposing and re-selling imperfect and unwanted products. WBGS’s mission is to build a truly circular economy, achieving positive impact on people and the planet in the process.
Acquiring a 21 per cent share of WBGS behind the founders who are majority shareholders, Officeworks plans to help expand the business into a national recovery and repair service under a new brand called Circonomy™. This will ultimately see the existing collection and repair service grow beyond furniture and office supplies, to implement solutions for products that would otherwise be sent to landfill, across the broader retail industry. Circonomy initially expects to create 70 jobs at various circular economy precincts across Australia.
Officeworks Managing Director, Sarah Hunter said the investment in WBGS demonstrates the environmental, social and financial opportunities associated with a more circular economy.
“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. 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,” Ms Hunter said.
“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”.
The first program of its kind in Australia, Circonomy will create a national network of circular economy precincts that will cater for both businesses and consumers. These centres will advocate for conscious consumerism through the resale of dormant or second-hand goods and will also provide Officeworks and other retailers with responsible waste management practices for its products. The increasing movement towards extending product lifecycle is further evident through the recent findings of the Productivity Commission inquiry into the right-to-repair, which the Federal Government is currently considering.
WBGS Founder and CEO, Yasmin Grigaliunas encourages other businesses to follow Officeworks’ lead and start to critically evaluate their waste management practices.
“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. 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,” she said.
Annual Australian retail repairs and returns are estimated at more than 10% of total stock. Internationally, the projected value of the circular economy industry is $4.5 trillion by 2030.