Recycling NFPs Creating Employment - Study
16 April 2013 at 11:56 am
Community Recycling Enterprises, mostly run by Not for Profit organisations, are playing an important role in recycling and local employment creation in Australia but there are still barriers to their growth, according to the first national study into their operations.
According to the study, Community Recycling Enterprises (CREs) divert a significant amount of resources from landfill, contribute to their local economies by creating employment and building niche markets, and operate as important hubs for community interactions.
The study set out to document the activities and impacts of these enterprises and was initiated through the Community Recycling Network Australia.
Lead researcher Associate Professor Jo Barraket from The Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies at QUT said the purposes of the research were to generate evidence that can contribute to the development of practice and policy support for CREs, and to provide information that is useful to community groups wishing to establish new CREs.
“The findings from the study suggest that, while reuse and recycling are their core business activities, the majority of CREs identify local employment creation as the dominant purpose of their enterprise.
“We estimate that CREs in Australia employ at least 1,500 people, a considerable proportion of whom are facing significant barriers to employment in the open labour market. CREs play an important role in local resource recovery; on average, CREs participating in this study diverted 2347 tonnes per year of resources from landfill alone.
The report says CREs also foster civic engagement, initiating and operating a range of innovative community activities. “These innovations typically evolve from the need to both secure enterprise sustainability and fulfil organisational missions.”
The survey data suggests that CREs that undertake multiple recycling and reuse activities perform better financially than those that undertake a smaller number of activities. The case study information suggests that successful CREs operate under a variety of organisational structures.
“They also keep their mission in mind while adapting in response to changing industry and public awareness of resource recovery."
The majority of CREs that participated in the study also reported facing barriers to growth.
According to the report these barriers included governance and management challenges related to the social enterprise models being used; industry challenges including price fluctuations, rapidly changing market needs and a lag in associated regulation; and the complexities of demonstrating within price competitive environments the significance of the social value added of the CRE approach.
The report says CREs provide leadership in commercial and domestic resource recovery, modelling new technologies and behaviours that are often adopted more widely as a result of their presence.
The report called A baseline study of Australia’s community recycling enterprises(CRE) can be downloaded from: http://eprints.qut.edu.au/58916/