Corporate retailers partner with reuse charities to supply people living in poverty in the UK with quality, reusable items

Posted on the 10th September 2015

The social, economic and environmental impacts brought about by the FRN take-back schemes are proof of our sector's importance in achieving a circular economy in our society today.

Craig Anderson, Furniture Re-use Network CEO

Embargoed: Tuesday 15 September 00:01 

A new report released today (Tuesday 15 September) at the 2015 RWM Exhibition by the Furniture Re-use Network (FRN) reveals 78,000 quality, reusable items supplied by the FRN take-back schemes went to people living in poverty in the UK during 2014/15.

The report illustrates impacts from a selection of partnerships with major retailers through the FRN take-back scheme, the impact of more than 20 FRN managed commercial partnerships and the overall impact of the re-use sector in the UK.

Through national partnerships with major furniture and electrical equipment retailers, the FRN national team has spearheaded successful take-back schemes that put the Circular Economy into action and ensure poverty alleviation for the excluded customer is recognised as a driver for change.

The following figures are examples of individual achievements from a selection of commercial FRN take-back schemes:

  • 2,818 sofas provided by IKEA in the past year, saved households £845,400
  • Over 12,000 low income households were helped as a result of the re-use and repair of electrical items and WEEE products from DixonsCarphone and DHL Envirosolutions take-back appliances.
  • 254 tonnes of furniture collected from the John Lewis FRN take-back scheme in 2014 prevented over 125 tonnes of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere.

Craig Anderson, FRN CEO says:

“We need to connect and direct the vision and ideas of the theorists to the reality of the actions of practitioners in local communities. Through our FRN take-back schemes we have found corporate retailers looking to reduce their waste and have married this with the re-use sector’s growing demands of meeting the needs of their communities. The social, economic and environmental impacts brought about by the FRN take-back schemes are proof of our sector’s importance in achieving a circular economy in our society today.”

Stephen Cawley, Head of Sustainability and Responsible Sourcing at John Lewis says:

“Our local FRN member charity partners are doing fantastic work nationwide to help families access much needed furniture and John Lewis enjoys the excellent working relationships we have with the charities. We feel proud to be part of such a great scheme, which offers invaluable opportunities within our communities and supports John Lewis’s ambition to divert waste from landfill.”

Joanna Yarrow, Head of Sustainability at IKEA UK & IE says:

“At IKEA, we know our customers want to live more sustainably at home, and we believe that they should not have to spend more money or time doing so. This is why our partnership with FRN (the Furniture Re-use Network) is so vital in achieving our aim to help reduce waste at home.”

Chris Brown, Recycling Process and Compliance Manager for Dixons Carphone UK and Ireland and Simon Potter, Business Director for DHL Envirosolutions say:

“DixonsCarphone & DHL enjoy working with the Furniture Re-use Network; it promotes reuse responsibility on a national scale and provides to local communities within our distribution areas. It is an easy and straightforward process for our sites, making the whole service provision manageable for all parties whilst adding value to our customers.”

To ensure a professional service from the charity and quality assurance to the commercial partners involved, the FRN members working on the FRN take-back schemes are required to undertake and pass a rigorous FRN audit. This guarantees a relationship that supports both parties involved in the FRN take-back schemes.

The FRN Take-back Scheme

The FRN take-back scheme started four years ago out of the increasing demand for reuse charities to fulfil their charitable aims in meeting the need for quality reused household items for those living in poverty. The FRN take-back scheme is an FRN brokered partnership between major commercial retailers and the FRN reuse members. Associates such as DHLE & Dixons, John Lewis and IKEA give the FRN members access to their customer’s quality reusable items that are collected when their new product is delivered. Previously, the swapping of the customer’s old product for their new would mean that perfectly reusable and quality items were being disposed of by the retailer. Waste for the commercial retailer was sky high along with their costs, and operational responsibilities were not being met. The answer was simple. We have members who desperately need quality reused products to meet the demands of the increasing numbers living in poverty and the commercial retailers are collecting the product as part of their service.

Notes to the editors:

For further information contact:
Bex Jones (Marketing & Communications Officer) T: 0117 9543552/07557 526 980
Claire Charras (Business Support Officer) T: 0117 954 3574 E:
Craig Anderson (FRN CEO) E:

  • The Furniture Re-use Network (FRN) is the national representative for over 200 reuse charities in the UK.
  • According to the FRN’s annual statistics, the 300+ re-use organisations in the UK help over 1 million households through the provision of over 3 million household furniture items and electrical equipment.
  • For the Furniture Re-use Network (FRN) it is re-use that provides an answer to the UK’s serious waste problem – turning it into a solution for the alleviation of poverty instead. By shifting behavioural attitudes of the public and corporations and using innovative schemes such as retail take-back scheme and supporting product stewardship, the FRN is a game-changer in putting the circular economy into motion.
  • Within the past year, the FRN take-back schemes have:
    • supplied 78,000 new and reused items,
    • saved low income families £12 million when purchasing essential household items,
    • prevented 3,000 tonnes of products from being wasted,
    • stopped 3,800 tonnes of CO2 entering into our atmosphere.
  • Essential items include something to sleep on, cook on and sit on.
  • The FRN motto is “No-one should be without a bed to sleep on, a cooker to cook on, or a sofa to sit on, wherever they live in the UK.”


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