eBay UK convenes new circular economy council for furniture and homeware

Image: eBay

The initiative is being spearheaded by online retail platform eBay UK and environmental NGO WRAP.

WRAP estimates that 22 million furniture items are discarded every year in the UK and that at least 20% of these are suitable for resale or reuse. The number of items discarded could well increase in the near future, given that Brits are buying new items for their home at an ever-faster pace.

To tackle this issue, the Circular Change Council will convene decision-makers from retailers and charities to assess – and implement potential solutions to – the most common perceived barriers to scaling the sale of used home goods.

One barrier is a lack of consumer awareness of the value and quality of second-hand goods, which eBay believes is growing amid the cost-of-living crisis. The site has seen a 140% year-on-year increase in searches for pre-owned furniture over the past 12 months.

Other barriers include the commercial viability of resale models, linked intrinsically to their ease of use, and the challenges of re-selling goods which are not perceived as valuable or durable in the first instance. To this latter point, the Council will also focus on how the component parts of furniture and homewares can be better designed for circularity in the first instance.

Organisations represented on the Council include Ikea UK & Ireland, Dunelm, the British Retail Consortium, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Simba and the British Heart Foundation.

In a statement, eBay said: “Retailers have made positive efforts to reduce the impact of the industry, for example, Simba via their mattress recycling and refurbishing efforts, and Ikea through their Re-shop and Re-use initiative where customers can find pre-loved items.

“However, there is recognition that as an industry there is a chance to increase impact and address wider issues which can only be tackled through collaboration.”

eBay UK’s general manager for home, refurbished and electronics, Kumaran Adithyan, added: “We are excited to partner with WRAP to bring together like-minded and forward-thinking brands from across the industry, to form a collective that can drive and incentivise behaviour change at scale.

“There are some challenges we’ll work together to tackle – from stigma for buying second-hand to the language and framing that we use around non-new items.”

Earlier this week, Barclaycard Payments published the results of a survey of 400 British retailers, revealing that almost half (46%) now provide a resale platform. A further 27% are considering implementing this kind of offering.

Of those retailers already dabbling in recommerce – a term which includes rental as well as resale and swapping – 82% said it had led to a revenue boost.

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