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eBay and Wrap launch Circular Change Council with leading UK retailers to tackle furniture waste

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eBay UK has teamed up with waste charity Wrap to launch the Circular Change Council, an action-focused homeware industry collective aiming to increase circularity in the furniture industry and help reduce furniture waste.

The industry-first collective features the founding partners alongside major brands including Ikea, George at Asda, Very, Sainsbury’s, Simba and Dunelm, as well as the British Retail Consortium and the British Heart Foundation.

Lyndsey Miles, head of business development at Dunelm, said: “Dunelm are excited to be collaborating with other major furniture retailers to recognise the amazing value that still exists in returned and pre-loved furniture. We know that by working together we have a much better chance of changing mindsets and creating a more circular furniture industry.”

The new council aims to increase circularity in the furniture industry and drive action to target the 22 million furniture items that are thrown away by citizens in the UK each year. Wrap reported more specifically 190,569 tonnes of sofas (approx 4.8 million sofas) are discarded, as well as 33,178 tonnes of dining tables (approx 1.1 million dining tables).

Beyond sustainable benefits, recent Wrap research shows that 20% of home furniture that is discarded is suitable for reuse. By purchasing reused home furniture rather than brand new, households could save £2.37bn, and avoid 62,255 tonnes of carbon emissions– which is the equivalent of taking over 28 thousand cars off the road for one year.

The initiative is the latest in a series of activations from eBay designed to promote re-commerce and tackle waste, following its pre-loved fashion sponsorship of ITV2’s Love Island that saw UK’s consumer appetite for second-hand items soar with 1,400% more searches for ‘pre-loved clothes’ in 2023.

Furthermore, eBay website searches for second-hand furniture have seen over 140% year-on-year increase, with top items being used kitchens, wardrobes, chests of drawers and armchairs.

To help drive further consumer demand in this space, the Circular Change Council will work with the UK’s leading retailers to frame ‘non-new’ furniture in the most appealing way to help tackle common perceptual barriers.

Kumaran Adithyan, general manager home, refurbished and electronics at eBay UK, commented: “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.”

Retailers have made positive efforts to reduce the impact of the industry, for example, Simba via their mattress recycling and refurbishing efforts, and Ikea through their Re-shop and Re-use initiative where customers can find pre-loved items. However, there is recognition that as an industry there is a chance to increase impact and address wider issues which can only be tackled through collaboration.

The council stressed circularity is good business: for retailers, a fully circular industry would make significant reductions to current returns models, which cost the industry up to £60bn a year. The challenges facing the industry, as identified in early reports and consultations driven by the council, include making it easier for consumers to access pre-owned furniture from a trusted and reliable source, cost of returns, and complex recycling regulations that can result in more furniture being sent to landfill than necessary.

The RetailX Europe Homeware 2023 report highlights that while the homeware sector has a poor record with sustainability it is working to improve both manufacturing practices and delivery. Download the full report to discover

  • How does Ikea attract ten times more traffic to its website than its nearest rival?
  • Homeware spending across Europe is strongest in Italy, Spain and Romania
  • How this sector is already leading the way in terms of AR uptake and approval

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