A new European Environmental Bureau (EEB) study has found that remanufacturing discarded furniture could create up to 157,000 jobs and save around 6 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in the EU.
Research has provided a range of policy options to enhance waste prevention and resource management in the European furniture sector.
The furniture sector is facing numerous obstacles due to increased pricing of raw materials, poor turnover in its workforce and expanded competition of low-cost countries such as China.
Every year, 10 million tonnes of furniture is placed on the EU market and around an equal amount is discarded by businesses and consumers.
The waste of these materials is a missed opportunity for the economy, but it also undermines attempts to develop into a circular and low-carbon economy.
Refurbishment of furniture ensures that resources remain in the economy instead of landfills and incinerators, which heightens the quantity of CO2 released into the air.
The most effective measures included in the report are:
Tougher criteria for Ecodesign- restricting the use of chemicals to help reuse, repair and recycling
Improving business models to cut furniture waste
Encouragement to take back discarded furniture and mandatory produce schemes
Information on life-cycle impact for procurers, repairs, recyclers and consumers.
EEB senior policy officer for product policy Carsten Wachholz said: “By avoiding furniture waste, EU policy makers can boost a market that was hardly hit by the recent crises and is part of our cultural heritage and style. But this will require the adoption of appropriate demand and supply chain levers to support a change across the industry.”
EEB is Europe’s largest network of environmental organisations with 140 members over 30 countries.