Benefits of reuse – domestic furniture

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SUMMARY OF RESEARCH

In 2009, WRAP published Meeting the UK Climate Challenge: The Contribution of Resource Efficiency. This showed that one of the best resource efficiency strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions was REUSE.

WRAP has developed a specific methodology for quantifying the benefits of reusing products. This can be applied to a range of products using an accompanying excel-based tool to provide a consistent means of assessing the impacts of different activities.

The tool allows the calculation of three environmental indicators (i) greenhouse gas emissions, (ii) energy demand and (iii) resource depletion, and two economic indicators (i) number of jobs and (ii) financial impacts, as well as where the costs and jobs accrue in the supply chain.  This case study describes the results for domestic furniture products.

The products chosen were a two seater sofa and a dining table.

In the UK - Up to 1,000,000 sofas (ca 37,000 tonnes) are reused in some form in the UK every year. This is about 17% of all the sofas reaching the end of their life each year. The remaining 83% are sent to recycling, energy recovery or landfill.

In the UK - Approximately 100,000 dining tables (2,800 tonnes) are reused in some form in the UK every year. This is about 17% of all the dining tables reaching the end of their life each year. The remaining 83% are sent to recycling, energy recovery or landfill.

SOFAS

The key environmental, financial and employment benefits associated with this reuse activity are:
  • Current levels of reuse of sofas avoid 52,000 tonnes CO2 eq per year
  • Providing 1 tonne of sofas for direct reuse e.g. second-hand shop or eBay can result in a net GHG saving of 1.45 tonnes CO2-eq.
  • This is approximately 55kg CO2-eq per sofa.
  • Providing 1 tonne of sofas to a preparation for reuse network can result in a net GHG saving of 1.05 tonnes CO2-eq net.
  • This is about 40kg CO2-eq per sofa.
  • As well as the carbon benefits, there are parallel resource and energy savings as a result of this reuse activity.
  • Households benefit by over £320 million per year as a result of sale of items through reuse exchange and avoiding purchase of (more expensive) new items

DINING TABLE

The key environmental, financial and employment benefits associated with this reuse activity are:

  • Current levels of reuse of dining tables lead to emissions (as opposed to savings) of 1,500 tonnes CO2 eq per year. These emissions are lower than if the tables had otherwise been sent to landfill (2,800 tonnes CO2 eq)
  • Providing 1 tonne of dining tables to a preparation for reuse network can result in a net GHG emissions (as opposed to savings) of 0.76 tonnes CO2 eq. This is approximately 20kg CO2-eq per table. However, these are lower than landfill emissions (1 tonne CO2 eq per tonne dining tables).
  • Households benefit by over £20 million per year as a result of sale of items through reuse exchange and avoiding purchase of (more expensive) new items.

SOURCE:

Environmental and economic benefits of re-use | WRAP UK. (2012, November 14). http://www.wrap.org.uk/content/environmental-and-economic-benefits-re-use

SUMMARY OF RESEARCH

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