Resource Use

eBay and WRAP launch Circular Change Council in efforts to tackle furniture waste

As part of efforts to increase circularity in the furniture industry and reduce waste, eBay UK, in partnership with WRAP, has announced the launch of the Circular Change Council.

Circular Change CouncilThe collective includes partnerships with a range of major brands, such as IKEA, George at ASDA, Very, Sainsbury’s, Dunelm, Simba, the British Retail Consortium and the British Heart Foundation.

The new council aims to drive circularity in the furniture industry, tackling the 22 million items of furniture thrown out by UK citizens each year. According to WRAP estimates, this includes approximately 4.8 million sofas as well as 1.1 million dining tables.

These figures alongside WRAP research that has shown that around 20 per cent of furniture discarded within the UK is suitable for reuse.

Purchasing reused home furniture has both sustainability and economic benefits for UK households; by switching to reused furniture households could save a total of £2.37 billion, whilst mitigating 62,255 tonnes of carbon emissions, equivalent to taking 28 thousand cars off the roads. eBay’s website has seen a 140 per cent year-on-year increase in searches for second-hand furniture items, with the most popular items being used kitchens, wardrobes, armchairs and chests of drawers.

The Council plans to continue to push consumers in the direction of secondhand, working with leading UK retailers to frame ‘non-new’ furniture in the most appealing way to help tackle challenges with how second-hand items are perceived.

Speaking on the launch of the Circular Change Council Kumaran Adithyan, General Manager of Home Refurbished and Electronics at eBay UK, said: “There is a huge opportunity for the furniture industry to take on some of the challenges to help take steps towards a fully circular future.

“We are excited to partner with WRAP, to bring together like-minded and forward-thinking brands from across the industry, to form a collective that can drive and incentivise behaviour change at scale.

“There are some challenges we’ll work together to tackle – from stigma for buying second-hand to the language and framing that we use around non-new items. For 28 years, eBay has been providing the platform for non-new items and driving circularity. Now is the moment for second-hand to shine. We intend not only to make it easier for consumers to find a good deal by buying non-new, but also to help to keep items out of landfill.”

Goals of the Circular Change Council

A fully circular furniture industry would substantially cut down on the current costs incurred by returns models, which currently amount to £60 billion annually.

Challenges highlighted in initial reports and consultations led by the Council involve enhancing consumers' access to trusted sources of pre-owned furniture, addressing return costs, and simplifying recycling regulations to prevent unnecessary furniture waste from ending up in landfills.

The Circular Change Council's primary mission is to enhance furniture circularity across various aspects in the UK, including:

  • Reduce waste: To prevent unnecessary furniture waste from ending up in landfills and encourage increased circularity in both furniture and its constituent components.
  • Customer behaviour: To raise awareness of the value of second-hand furniture, which can be both cost-effective and convenient for consumers.
  • Commercial viability: To assist furniture retailers in transitioning to a circular model.

Harriet Lamb, CEO of WRAP, commented: “WRAP’s partnership with eBay to form the Circular Change Council comes at a pivotal time. From sofas to mattresses, tables to garden chairs, furniture waste is mounting.

“It’s high time that we addressed the impact on the environment, as well as looking at how we can all as citizens create positive change whilst saving money, such as encouraging people to buy pre-loved furniture as they do with clothes. WRAP is chuffed to bits to be working with eBay, bringing our expertise and knowledge of convening businesses to tackle waste, as we have already in plastics and textiles.

“We hope to galvanise tangible actions, uniting key players in the furniture sector to work together and implement lasting change.”

The Circular Change Council will reconvene at its next roundtable later this month and intends to release a set of commitments aimed at driving action in its key areas of focus in the year 2024, with a view to launching pilot projects that will help prompt a widespread response from retailers and consumers alike.

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