Eunomia has been commissioned by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) to undertake research that looks at the effects of integrating circular economy principles across the European furniture supply chain.
In Britain alone, some 300,000 tonnes of reusable furniture is thrown out every year. Aims of the research include identifying key interventions and policy levers to accelerate a circular economy in the furniture sector.
According to the European Federation of Furniture Manufacturers (UEA), EU furniture waste accounts for more than 4% of the total municipal solid waste, of which 80-90% is incinerated or dumped in landfills, with only 10% recycled.
The research will explore the impacts 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, look at key benefits in terms of material conservation, CO2 emission reduction and net cost saving opportunities.
Eunomia Founder and Chairman, Dr Dominic Hogg said:
“There is a long list of potential 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 more circular supply chain promotes growth and jobs in emerging service areas such as repair, reuse, re-manufacture and leasing.”
This EEB research comes at a time when the European furniture industry faces a variety of economic, regulatory and environmental challenges including declining tariffs on foreign trade, growth in emerging markets, improving logistics, consumer demand for keenly priced items, and volatile raw material and energy costs.
Stephane Arditi Products & Waste Policy Manager from EEB said:
“From business model and products design to end of life stage, we expect with this report to identify concrete circular economy opportunities and extrapolate associated environmental and economic benefits for Europe. This is a challenging task as 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 policy makers on how to unleash circularity potentials in the furniture sector”.
At a UK level, Eunomia recently completed work for Suez, which identified that an increase in Gross Value Added of £9 billion would result from circular economy principles being integrated into the country’s emerging industrial strategy.