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Study seeks ways to accelerate furniture recycling in the EU

Europe – ‘In Britain alone, some 300 000 tonnes of reusable furniture is thrown out every year,’ according to research from Eunomia which was commissioned by the European Environmental Bureau. The firm is now hoping to identify ‘key interventions and policy lever”€™ to accelerate a circular economy in the furniture sector.

The new research project will explore: the impacts of adopting eco-design principles, incentivised return, leasing and take-back models; shifting production towards greater use of secondary materials; and refurbished components and units. The project will also analyse the main constraints and opportunities at each stage of the supply chain, as well as looking at key benefits in terms of material conservation, carbon emission reduction and net cost saving opportunities.

‘There is a long list of potential benefits to developing a more circular furniture supply chain,’ comments Eunomia founder and chairman Dr Dominic Hogg. ‘Some of them are environmental, such as significantly reducing reliance on the extraction and input of raw materials, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions as a result. But there are economic benefits too: a more circular supply chain promotes growth and jobs in emerging service areas such as repair, reuse, remanufacture and leasing.’

EU furniture waste accounts for more than 4% of municipal solid waste, says the European Federation of Furniture Manufacturers. In total, up to 90% is incinerated or dumped in landfills while only 10% is recycled.

Eunomia recently completed work for Suez which identified that an increase in gross value added of £9 billion (Euro 10.8 billion) would result from circular economy principles being integrated into the EU’s emerging industrial strategy.

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