London records furniture recycling surge

An increasing number of householders are looking for ways to ensure unwanted furniture finds a new home rather than finding its way to landfill.

According to the London Furniture Reuse Network (London FRN), the number of households donating furniture has gone up by 14% over the past year.

In providing a low-cost alternative to expensive, high-street shops, furniture reuse organisations significantly contribute to reducing domestic poverty in London.

The supply of affordable furniture to disadvantaged families with limited or no financial income, enables them to improve their homes without spiralling into debt, helping people out of poverty – not compounding it.

Reusing furniture also has significant environmental benefits, of course, by making the most efficient use of the embodied energy in the products while easing the demand for natural resources and reducing the amount of waste being sent to landfills or incinerators.

“This is fantastic news for the reuse sector, the figures indicate a continual increase in the number of Londoners who choose to send their furniture and appliances for reuse rather than fly tipping or sending them to landfill,” said Richard Featherstone, regional development manager for London FRN.

“Over 14,500 households were helped by the furniture reuse service in London in 2006. However, the ideal figure should be around 300,000 households, proving there is still a long way to go and much campaigning still to be done.”

Mr Featherstone told edie that while those on low incomes were the first priority, in many areas reused furniture was also being made available to those who wished to buy it for environmental reasons.

“Demand for reuse furniture has traditionally been to families and single persons on low income because this meets a charitable objective to relieve poverty and reduce hardship in London – this is a big job with many boroughs having the highest levels of deprivation in the UK,” he said.

“However we are opening up the reuse market to include anyone but we are keen not to blur the image with second hand shops. We are here to help, not necessarily sell to the highest bidder.

“Donors of furniture have chosen to give their items to the furniture reuse network because they want their items to go to someone less fortunate than themselves; we must honour that.

“Some shops thankfully have more than enough to go round and therefore do open the doors to the general public. The quality of the goods is the same for everyone.”

Community collection services successfully work along side many of London’s Council’s bulky collection services. Calling the council to arrange a pick up, you may be asked if your furniture is good enough to use again, allowing people to arrange a reuse collection van, or, if the item is unfit for use, the bulky refuse van.

This is a great benefit to the community but further collaboration between local authorities and furniture projects is needed. So far, eleven London boroughs have developed successful service level agreements and London FRN would like to see more.

Sam Bond

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