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War Economy

Use of Substitute Materials

Use of Substitute Materials

As supplies became harder to get, there was a natural tendency to concentrate more on locally produced materials. The 1942 report of the Industries and Commerce Department says:2

‘Where the source of raw materials used was domestic in its origin, production was substantially increased, much of the additional output being for defence purposes. This was revealed in the woollen mills, boot and shoe factories, and biscuit factories.’

Industry was also called upon to continue to produce goods where the supply of the usual materials was curtailed. Experiments were made with substitute materials, in many cases successfully. The 1944 report of the Industries and Commerce Department mentions the following examples:3

page 155

substitution of ferrous for non-ferrous metals in the production of plated spoons;


use of plastic materials for buttons in place of metal;


increasing use of wood and glass for articles of domestic use;


re-use of milk powder tins for the production of billies, tin kettles, etc.


use of case strapping for the manufacture of bird cages, rat traps, soap holders, etc.


use of linen flax tow to some extent as a substitute tow in fibrous plaster and furniture production.

Reclaimed rubber, metals and other materials filled many gaps in the supply of raw materials,1 and a special wartime organisation supervised the collection and distribution of suitable waste materials. Reclaimed rubber and tyres, for example, were equivalent to nearly two years' pre-war importing of rubber in the form of raw rubber and tyres.

2 p. 4.

3 Parliamentary Paper H-44, p. 2.

1 See also p. 144.