Britain's 'disposable' culture often means that perfectly good items end up in landfill. Virtually all of Britain's old furniture ends up at the rubbish tip when it is replaced, says a leading waste disposal and recycling company.
According to Business Waste, the British public is in the habit of dumping its old sofas, beds, tables and chairs instead of finding an alternative means of disposal. Only around than 10% of old furniture items are recycled, a figure that Business Waste is keen to see increased.
"It's heartbreaking to see perfectly good items being sent to landfill," says BusinessWaste.co.uk's commercial director Mark Hall, "and as a nation we appear to have a collective bad habit of destroying our old furniture first and asking questions later. In our rush to clear a space for new pieces, we seem to forget there are alternatives."
According to BusinessWaste.co.uk, 90% of discarded furniture is earmarked for destruction, with barely any being reused. Of the remaining ten per cent, 7% is sold onwards, 2% is given to friends or family members and 1% is donated to furniture charities.
The company says that when discarded furniture can be diverted from landfill to recycling, it will be disposed of and re-used appropriately, which is especially the case with unwanted office furniture.
"Businesses are even worse than households when it comes to getting rid of its desks, chairs and cabinets. However, they're more in tune with their recycle value, particularly when there's metal which can be resold as scrap," says Mark.
However, the greatest concern is from domestic waste, which often comprises a mix of materials like metals, plastics and fabrics, which leaves owners puzzled as to how they dispose of them correctly.
"Too often it's a quick check down the back of the chair for loose change, then straight to the rubbish tip," says Mark. "If people stopped for a second they'd probably find a welcome home for their old goods with very few problems. Furniture charities are crying out for stock, and they often pick up for free."
Business Waste's call for sensible re-use and recycling of old furniture strikes a chord with furniture retailers who see this waste every day.
Tony Clark of Yorkshire-based tradefurniturecompany.co.uk states: "Of course a new piece of furniture will brighten up any home, but we're pleased when customers tell us they've found a new owner for the piece they're replacing. Used furniture, even a massed-produced piece, could be a future antique, so why destroy a possible fortune?"