Ikea and John Lewis bolster nationwide re-use programme

More than 78,000 items of furniture and electronics were donated to people living in poverty across the UK last year, under take-back schemes organised by major retailers and the Furniture Re-use Network (FRN).

A report released at the RWM exhibition in Birmingham today (15 September) reveals that the FRN has brokered more than 20 partnerships with various retailers since its launch four years ago, with an overall aim to boost the circular economy and alleviate poverty.

Ikea, for example, provided 2,818 sofas through the scheme last year, saving households £845,400. Another 12,000 low-income households were helped by repaired and recycled electronics from DixonsCarphone and DHL Envirosolutions.

Luxury retailer John Lewis also helped collect 254 tonnes of furniture through a take-back scheme, helping prevent more than 125 tonnes of CO2 from being emitted, the report reveals. 

Idea to reality

The figures released today by the FRN showcase the potential of public-private collaborations in industries where far too much waste is sent unnecessarily to landfill.

FRN chief executive Craig Anderson said:”We need to connect and direct the vision and ideas of the theorists to the reality of the actions of practitioners in local communities.

“Through our FRN take-back schemes we have found corporate retailers looking to reduce their waste and have married this with the re-use sector’s growing demands of meeting the needs of their communities.

“The social, economic and environmental impacts brought about by the FRN take-back schemes are proof of our sector’s importance in achieving a circular economy in our society today.” 

Take that

The FRN take-back scheme works by pairing retailers with re-use members. Associates such as DHLE & Dixons give FRN members access to their customer’s quality reusable items that are collected when their new product is delivered.

Previously, the retailers would have had to pay to dispose of these items, wasting money and valuable resources.

The issue of re-use and the circular economy is picking up publicity in recent weeks, following the end of the EU’s consultation on what its forthcoming circular economy package should look like.

A report last week from the waste think-tank RSA and resources firm SUEZ, has revealed that 1.6 million tonnes of bulky waste – 42% of which is furniture – is sent to landfill every year, despite over 50% of it being reusable.

Meanwhile, WRAP has claimed a European transition to the circular economy could create three million extra jobs by 2030 and reduce unemployment by 520,000. The charity called for a specific food waste policy, greater encouragement of resource efficient business models, and the creation of a ‘target vision’ of what the ideal EU circular economy would look like.

The Green Alliance has also released its response to the consultation. A final circular economy package is expected from the EU by the end of the year.

Brad Allen

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