A Scrapstore or Scrap Store is a particular type of not for profit organization centered upon the principle of re-use. The basic operational principle of all Scrapstores is the same, although their business models may differ significantly.

The Basic Principle

Scrapstores operate by taking re-usable, safe, clean waste products (‘Scrap’) and re-distributing it. Usually these materials come from local industries and are donated, although there is a cost to the Scrapstore in terms of collection and sorting etc. The benefit to the businesses is that they are getting rid of material that they would normally pay to dispose of and that they are seen to play a part in their local community. Being significantly different from Scrap Yards, the re-use element tends to be dominated by art and craft activities – often aimed at those working with young children - but items may also be used in DIY or other activities. It is also common for Scrapstores to trade in new art and craft products to complement the sale of Scrap.

The Business Models

Some Scrapstores operate as charities, with the provision of re-use items to local schools and playgroups as their core aim. Others operate as social enterprises, with reduction of landfill and provision of re-use items being part of their triple bottom line and with profit being used to support a charity, or another social aim.

The most visible difference between the two business models is one of access and price structure.

The Charitable Model as outlined by Children’s Scrapstore tends towards closed membership and restricted access. They are frequently funded, specifically to provide materials to particular groups within their community and access is restricted to these groups. The groups usually pay an annual membership fee, which may fluctuate based on the size and location of the group. They usually then make another volume related payment each time they take away Scrap material. Access may be limited to a certain number of visits per month, a certain volume of Scrap or there may be limits on particularly desirable items in order to give all members an opportunity to access them.

The Social Enterprise Model as outlined by Unique Scrapstore tends to be more recognizable as a business. Such stores will tend to have a more defined pricing structure and lower membership fees. There still tends to be a focus on customers who work with young children, (including discount schemes or free items) but such stores are more likely to be open to the public as well. (Unique Scrapstore also claims to be the first in the UK to actively trade on line) Social enterprise based Scrapstores will tend to have clear, measurable re-use targets incorporated into their triple bottom line.

Scrap Swaps

Children’s Scrapstore provides a directory of over 100 Scrapstores in the UK and although they tend to communicate with and assist one another, they usually operate independently. There is no umbrella body and the term refers simply to an operational concept rather than a specific group or chain of organisations.

As a result, Scrapstores can easily become defined by the waste items particular to industry in their area. One solution to this is the Scrap Swap, where stores exchange their surplus stock items with one another. This can be done on a one to one basis or at a central location, where several stores will gather to exchange.


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