Annually in the UK, more than one billion kilograms of waste furniture and mattresses are sent to landfill. With furniture increasingly highlighted by regulatory bodies as a key area for meeting waste reduction targets, there is potential for the introduction of ever more stringent prevention measures.
The industry is being asked to participate in a survey to gauge the practical steps needed to adopt a ‘circular economy’ approach. The circular economy aims to redress wastage and resource efficiency by ‘closing the loop’ to ensure that existing materials remain in productive use for as long as possible.
Launched today, the survey is being carried out by the UK’s largest furniture association to gain an insight into the challenges and opportunities presented by the circular economy, by enabling stakeholders from across the furniture industry to share their perceptions and experiences. The survey forms a critical part of a new research project, which aims to explore the business case for a circular economy for the furniture industry. The survey closes on 1st November 2015. Those wanting to take part can do so by clicking here.
The project is being funded by the Furniture Industry Research Association, which was set by the industry for the industry over 65 years ago. It provides invaluable technical support to the entire furniture supply chain and funds projects for the benefit of the industry.
FIRA’s sustainability expert, James Bell, who is leading the research project, says: “The issue of waste is not going away. The statistics don’t lie – we live in a society predicated on unsustainable wastage and resource inefficiency. All of this despite the ever increasing cost of sending waste to landfill and the volatility of raw materials prices. A critical part of this initial feasibility study will be feedback from our members and other stakeholders, and we hope that this valuable consultation will underpin our future efforts in supporting and facilitating the industry’s transition to a circular economy.”
Estimates suggest that upwards of 90% of the raw materials used in manufacturing are lost to wastage before the product even departs the factory, whilst 80% of products are disposed of within the first six months of their life. The implementation of a circular economy strategy would aim to ‘close the loop’ to ensure that existing materials and products are kept in productive use for as long as possible through a combination of design, innovation, reuse, remanufacturing and recycling.
The industry has attracted the attention of the regulators as both the European Commission and UK Government have highlighted furniture and bulky goods as a ‘priority target’ for action. Growing calls to progress new, and ever more binding, waste reduction targets, as part of the EU Commission’s so called ‘circular economy’ package could see the introduction of a raft of reduction measures including extended producer responsibility requirements and pay-as-you-throw usage pricing.
James continues: “This project emphasises the Association’s recognition of the importance of the circular economy to the future of the furniture industry, and its supply chain. Whilst the concept and theory behind the circular economy have been addressed by a number of distinguished organisations and institutions, we feel it is imperative to complement this existing research with a sectoral analysis of the furniture industry’s current and future role in this evolving area. By stimulating key debate and dialogue, we can continue to support our members by acting as the central repository of information on the topic of the circular economy, as well as sustainable development more generally, across the industry."