John Lewis and FRN launch sofa reuse scheme


John Lewis has launched its first not for profit sofa reuse scheme, which aims to reuse or recycle ‘end of first life’ sofas to support disadvantaged communities.

According to John Lewis, four million children in the UK live in households that cannot afford to replace worn out or broken furniture, while 10 million items of furniture are thrown away every year in the UK, of which 3 million could be reused.

Launched in association with charity Furniture Re-use Network (FRN) – a national co-ordinating body for 300 UK reuse organisations that collect a wide range of household items to pass onto people in need – the project follows a trial in John Lewis Liverpool, which reportedly saw ‘192 sofas successfully reused and/or recycled.’

The retailer has now said it will roll out the service nationwide to ‘relieve poverty and reduce waste by promoting the reuse of essential household furniture’.

Scheme could see 65 per cent of sofas reused

Under the scheme, customers ordering a new sofa from John Lewis can have their old sofas taken away for a fee of £29.97. According to John Lewis, the fee will ‘cover the basic running costs incurred by the retailer’ with the remainder being given to the reuse charity to help ‘support its activities’.

The sofas will then be stored at John Lewis distribution centres and collected by one of 17 local FRN charity partners.

It is anticipated that the nationwide scheme will result in ’65 per cent of returned sofas being reused, 20 per cent repaired or refurbished and then reused, and 15 per cent broken down into component parts and responsibly recycled’.

John Lewis has said that the scheme will not only help disadvantaged families to replace a sofa they would not otherwise be able to afford, it will also provide employment opportunities in the communities in which the retailer operates.

“A win-win approach”

Stephen Cawley, Head of Sustainability at John Lewis said: “We are delighted to partner with local charities and help families nationwide in accessing much needed furniture. At the same time, it supports our ambition to divert waste from landfill - so it is a win-win approach for communities and the environment.”

Lesley Wilcox at FRN added: “The trials were a resounding success and I am delighted they have paved the way for the roll out of such a positive scheme. I would like to thank John Lewis customers for supporting the scheme and the local charities with which we work who work at ground level to provide real support to some of those most in need.”

The sofa reuse scheme follows in the footsteps in a similar mattress recycling scheme also run by John Lewis.

The company has increased efforts to reduce the amount of waste it sends to landfill, and in January of this year it agreed a new contract with Liverpool-based recycler Centriforce Products (Centriforce), in the hopes of becoming the ‘first UK retailer’ to ‘close the loop’ and see all its waste plastic converted into new products.

Read more about The Furniture Re-Use Network.