Over 10 million reusable items of furniture are sent to landfill by local authorities every year – almost 30,000 items every day – revealed a study by The Furniture Re-use Network (FRN) recently.
In a speech to Sheffield Hallam University’s Centre for Sustainable Consumption on 20th September, Paul Smith, Chief Executive of the FRN, appealed to local authorities to change their processes. He explained, “Some Councils have shown the way by introducing bulky re-use collections or setting up charity shops and workshops on civic amenity sites. We are calling upon all local authorities and their waste management partners to adopt this approach.” Over half a million tonnes of ‘waste’ could be diverted from landfill. “Coupled with a proper implementation of the WEEE Directive we could save 17 million items for re-use each year”.
One of the barriers to re-use is the increasing amount of furniture made from low quality materials that are not robust and therefore have a significantly shorter life. Smith is also calling on the Government to introduce an environmental tax on these goods with the proceeds being used to support re-use and recycling.
“The Government is looking at ways to reduce waste and the production of goods designed to have a short life from non-reusable materials is an environmental disaster. The FRN would like to see producer responsibility extended to these environmentally damaging goods with at least some of the revenue directed towards third sector re-use and recycling activities.”
Paul Smith, FRN