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John Lewis re-use scheme gives customer sofas a new lease of life



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Retailer John Lewis has launched its first not for profit service, the sofa reuse scheme, which sees 'end of first life' sofas collected by the retailer from customers' homes, then reused or recycled in conjunction with members of the Furniture Re-use Network to support disadvantaged communities.

 John Lewis has worked with  The Furniture Re-use Network (FRN), a national co-ordinating body for 300 UK re-use organisations that collect a wide range of household items to pass onto people in need. FRN’s aim, to relieve poverty and reduce waste by promoting the re-use of essential household furniture to help people in need, aligns with John Lewis’s own sustainability strategy.

sofa reuse schemeResearch has found that 4 million children in the UK live in households that cannot afford to replace worn out or broken furniture. In addition, 10 million items of furniture are thrown away every year in the UK – 3 million of these could be re-used.

In response, John Lewis has launched its first not for profit service; the sofa reuse scheme, which sees ‘end of first life’ sofas collected by the retailer from customers’ homes, then reused or recycled in conjunction with local charities to support disadvantaged communities.

A 12 month trial was recently completed in the North West area, which saw 192 sofas successfully reused and/or recycled. The scheme will launch nationwide in April.

The scheme costs £30 per customer, which covers the basic running costs incurred by the retailer with the remainder being given to the reuse charity to help support its activities . The sofas are collected by John Lewis green van drivers at the same time as delivering new sofas to customers, which helps limit unnecessary road mile usage. The sofas are then stored at John Lewis distribution centres and collected by local FRN charity partners. There are 17 local charity partners set-up nationwide, helping to ensure that sofas are distributed to local people in need.

Stephen Cawley, head of sustainability at John Lewis, said: “We are delighted to partner with local charities and help families nationwide in accessing much needed furniture. At the same time, it supports our ambition to divert waste from landfill - so it is a win-win approach for communities and the environment.”

In line with The John Lewis Partnership’s strategy to divert 95% of waste from landfill by the end of 2013, the scheme aims for 65% of returned sofas to be reused, 20% repaired or refurbished and then reused, and 15% broken down into component parts and recycled. For every item John Lewis takes back, a family in need is being helped; either by replacing a sofa that they would not otherwise be able to afford or by providing employment opportunities in the communities in which the retailer operates.

Lesley Wilcox at FRN added “The trials were a resounding success and I am delighted they have paved the way for the roll out of such a positive scheme. I would like to thank John Lewis customers for supporting the scheme and the local charities with which we work who work at ground level to provide real support to some of those most in need.”

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