NACRO members are the original circular economy experts. We divert waste from landfill, generate funds to support the community, and create thousands of voluntary and paid positions around the country. However, we know very little about our collective impact – the contribution that we, as a sector, make to Australia’s social, environmental and economic fabric. Understanding our collective impact will create an evidence base for the unequalled social and environmental benefits of our sector, helping all NACRO members to demonstrate their unique selling points to customers, businesses and governments. It will also help NACRO to advocate on behalf of the sector, providing hard data and case studies to back up what we already know – that the charitable reuse, recycling and retail sector creates unparalleled social and environmental benefits for the Australian community.
NACRO’s proposed approach seeks to link charitable reuse and recycling with its social, environmental and economic impacts, by inviting members to regularly contribute basic information about their work and impact. This information will be used to build up an increasingly detailed picture of our sector’s collective impact around the country. Individual organisations will be able to access their own data, and ultimately, generate reports and infographics for use in stakeholder communications, annual reports, tenders and grant applications.
Based on research and interviews with charitable peak associations and networks overseas, it is clear that collective impact measurement is one of the most effective ways to demonstrate value and catalyse sector growth, and we are looking forward to working closely with all our members to move this project forwards in the coming year.
Two major projects are underway to achieve this:
Australian Research Council Grant Application
NACRO is working with Monash University on an Australian Research Council grant to measure the ‘Benefits of Charitable Reuse Organisations in the Circular Economy’. We have received $100,000 in financial support from the Department of Environment and Science (QLD), Green Industries South Australia (SA) and Sustainability Victoria (VIC), which has enabled the application to be submitted. This will be a major 3-year study with comprehensive outputs and data that will assist both the sector as a whole, and individual NACRO members demonstrate the triple bottom impact of their operations to all stakeholders.
It may take some months until we hear back whether the application has been successful and NACRO will keep members informed on progress.
Circular Economy Impact Measurement
In the meantime, NACRO is independently funding a separate, shorter-term Impact Measurement research project.
The purpose of this research is to demonstrate the social, environmental and economic impacts of charitable reuse and recycling, using the case study of clothing textiles. Understanding the impact of NACRO member activities will contribute to an evidence base for the benefits of the sector, helping all NACRO members to demonstrate their unique selling points to customers, businesses and governments. It will also enable NACRO to advocate on behalf of the sector with hard data to promote the benefits of charitable reuse and recycling organisations within Circular Economy principles.
NACRO has commissioned MRA Consulting to conduct this research, and it is expected that the initial data and outputs will be ready in mid 2020.
Please see NACRO’s Research Brief here.