What is the circular economy and how does it affect the European furniture industry?


According to Furn 360, there are three principles that the circular economy focuses on: preserving and enhancing natural capital, optimising resource yields and foster system effectiveness. The circular economy aims to conserve natural resources by replacing with services and designing products that can be used again before materials can be recovered. When materials are recovered, they can be renewed and used into new resources again.

A quarter of the world’s furniture is produced in the European Union and it is facing economic and regulatory challenges. Hence, there has been an increase in circular approaches in the European furniture industry. According to a report from the CE Hub in 2018, during the past two years, 62% of the sampled 55 Danish companies have made an effort to reduce waste and 40% used recycled materials companies. 

What are the challenges the circular economy will face?

There are various challenges that the circular furniture industry will encounter including: material and design difficulties, low demand for recycled materials and high cost of repair. Companies tend to select low-cost materials and shift away from using materials such as wood. This reduces the possibility of a second life for the product. Recycled materials are still underdeveloped and labour costs are high when it comes to repair and refurbishment. 

What are the opportunities?

Circular approaches can help with economic growth, job creation, create stricter rules for design, reduce waste and save resources. Job functions that will help drive circular economy transformations would revolve around product design, packaging, lifecycle and business models. Revenues will have a potential increase with emerging circular activities and a reduction in the cost of production with better utilisation of inputs.  

The circular economy will transform the way manufacturers operate. Instead of producing furniture rapidly, they will consider on durability and sustainability.  Circular economy development will bring environmental benefits that can reduce carbon dioxide emissions and material consumption.