The Environmental Audit Committee recommends EPR for furniture

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has requested that government introduce an Extended Producer Responsibility scheme for furniture waste. The funds raised will be used to “invest in technology to guarantee the safe disposal of future hazardous wastes”.

Extended producer responsibility (EPR) is a method of product stewardship. Under EPR, manufacturers and producers are responsible for the products they make or sell. As part of their responsibility, producers help pay for the costs of collecting, transporting, recycling and disposing of these products and materials at the end of their life. EPR takes the whole product life cycle into account, as this keeps producers liable for their products beyond the point of purchase and any warranty period.

The recommendation came as part of the EAC’s recent report discussing Toxic Chemicals in Everyday Life which the committee described as “the growing problem of chemical pollution” in items commonly used within a household. The report especially homed in on chemicals used in everyday products, such as furniture, food and toys, and the damage associated with them in terms of environmental impact and harm to human health.

The report outlined aspects of the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy, which singled bulky waste out as one of their “key areas” for EPR. The government has additionally stated that they would research further into how to promote a more “sustainable approach to chemicals though producer responsibility”.

The EAC’s report said that it would be impossible to implement their ambitions without a swift move to a more circular economy for chemicals, and strongly recommended an EPR scheme for the furniture industry is introduced. In the Resources and Waste Strategy, the government has committed to an EPR scheme for bulky waste including mattresses, furniture and carpets by 2025.

However, the committee has prewarned that this scheme is unlikely to be consulted on before 2020. They also mentioned that DEFRA is developing a strategy with local authorities and the waste industry to redirect high risk items away from landfill. According to the EAC, furniture retailers have indicated that they would be open to such a scheme, although Amazon have expressed that they would “like the administration of the programme to involve the entire supply chain, including recyclers.”

If you are a producer of home furnishing items and have any queries at this stage regarding how this new EPR scheme may affect your business in the future, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will endeavour to best advise based on the information we have available to us –