Research into the potential for integrating circular economy (CE) principles in the European furniture supply chain is to be carried out by the consultancy Eunomia.
Furniture waste across Europe is said to account for more than 4% of the total municipal solid waste, of which 80-90% is incinerated or dumped in landfills, with only 10% being recycled. In the UK, it is estimated that 300,000 tonnes of reusable furniture is thrown out every year.
The research has been commissioned by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), a federation of 150 community organisations in more than 30 countries.
Eunomia’s research will explore the effects of adopting eco-design principles, incentivised return, leasing and take-back models, and 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.
Eunomia chairman Dominic Hogg said there were many benefits to developing a more circular furniture supply chain.
“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 circular supply chain promotes growth and jobs in emerging service areas such as repair, reuse, remanufacture and leasing,” he said.
Stephane Arditi, products and waste policy manager from the EEB, said: “We expect with this report to identify concrete CE opportunities and extrapolate associated environmental and economic benefits for Europe.
“This is a challenging task because data is not yet fully consolidated at European level, and the industry is diversified in terms of materials and economic actors. But this will hopefully provide a clear baseline vision to engage with the industry and policymakers on how to unleash circularity potentials in the furniture sector.”
Eunomia will be supported in the research by Sophie Thomas, who was CE director at the RSA and founded the Great Recovery project.