Lessons from the UK Furniture Re-Use Network

Report highlights reuse sector’s achievements

By Mattie Belfield | 15 September 2015

Collaborating with large corporate retailers, the Furniture Re-use Network (FRN) has redistributed 78,000 items of quality, reusable household goods to those living in poverty in the UK during 2014/15, according to a report released today (15 September) at the RWM exhibition. Source: https://resource.co/article/report-highlights-reuse-sector%E2%80%99s-achievements-10482

Lessons from the UK Furniture Re-Use Network 1

IMAGE CREDIT: Furniture Re-use Network

The FRN, the national body supporting charitable reuse organisations across the UK, has spearheaded take-back schemes in partnership with commercial retailers such as John Lewis, DHL Envirosolutions and Dixons Carphone, and IKEA, to ensure reusable items are collected when new products are delivered.

The report, ‘Commercial retailers: Their impact on the UK reuse sector’, highlights that John Lewis, DHL Envirosolutions and Dixons Carphone, and IKEA have worked with the FRN to reuse goods and reduce waste. Figures cited in the report include:

  • 2,818 sofas provided by IKEA in the past year have saved households £845,400;

  • over 12,000 low income households were helped as a result of the reuse and repair of electrical items and WEEE products from Dixons Carphone and DHL Envirosolutions take-back scheme for appliances;

  • 254 tonnes of furniture collected from the John Lewis FRN take-back scheme in 2014 prevented over 125 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

The impact of reuse in the UK

As well as highlighting achievements of specific schemes, the report claims that reuse is the ‘key starting point for the circular economy agenda’.

Additionally, it says that the UK’s reuse sector has a positive social, environmental and socio-economic impact. The report claims:

  • 1 million households have been provided with free or low-cost goods, and low-income households in the UK have saved £382 million on essential goods thanks to reused items;

  • 103,000 tonnes of waste was diverted from landfills; 3 million furniture and electrical items were reused; and 110,000 tonnes of CO2 was saved by the UK’s reuse sector;

  • 4,793 people are employed by the sector each year with a further 49,209 people supported through volunteering, training and work placements.

Turning the ‘ideas of the theorists to the reality’

Commenting on the release of the report, Craig Anderson, FRN CEO, 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 reuse 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.”

Stephen Cawley, Head of Sustainability and Responsible Sourcing at John Lewis, added: “Our local FRN member charity partners are doing fantastic work nationwide to help families access much needed furniture and John Lewis enjoys the excellent working relationships we have with the charities. We feel proud to be part of such a great scheme, which offers invaluable opportunities within our communities and supports John Lewis’s ambition to divert waste from landfill.”


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