France has set up a system of furniture recycling which, despite its flaws, is putting pressure on the industry in other EU countries to follow suit.
One of the criticisms of the French scheme is the economics of the process: Cecile des Abbayes, research and systems director of Eco-Mobilier, told the Europur meeting that “The revenues are small compared to the logistics costs today,” and it is not clear when Eco-Mobilier will achieve its business goal of breaking even.
Eco-Mobilier was set up with a strong push from legislation when the French furniture recycling law was drafted in 2009.
At the time, “most furniture waste in France went to landfill,” she explained. She estimated that this amounted to 1.7m tonne/year and in 2009 half of this waste went to landfill. This included 100% of the mattresses.
“This is not sustainable and this is why the regulators created an extended producer responsibility scheme,” she said.
Des Abbayes explained that this was done for two reasons; firstly on environmental grounds and secondly, because the amount of tax levied on landfill and incineration increases annually in France.
She added that France has around 1200 small local authorities, and these small authorities do not have money to invest in waste-to power; waste-to-heat or recycling installations.
There are 21 Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes…