The EU furniture industry is a labour-intensive sector dominated by SMEs, which is facing nowadays different challenges such as increasing competition from countries with lower production costs, increasing raw materials and labor costs, an aging workforce and difficulties in attracting younger workers. Reconversion of the industry applying circularity has the potential to tackle these challenges, through repairing, refurbishment and remanufacture, allowing value recovery, economic growth and job creation within the European furniture industry, while saving on resources and the environment.
As for the EC report on the implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan (2019), the transition from linear to circular requires significant changes at micro, meso and macro levels, from innovation at business model and value chain level to the introduction of new technologies. Being the furniture industry dominated by SMEs most of the employees do not have a tertiary education level and are not acquainted with circular economy aspects. To address skills gaps and mismatches and to strengthen human capital along the entire furniture value chain, it is fundamental to invest in skills, design, creativity, research, innovation and new technologies.
- to equip furniture employees with relevant skills related to circularity;
- to spread innovative and sustainable circular business models in the furniture industry contributing to enhance its competitiveness;
- to increase SMEs ability to analyse their business under a “circular” point of view;
- to promote synergies and cooperation among businesses, universities, research centres and other relevant stakeholders operating in the furniture sector following a circular approach;
- to spread circular procurement principles with benefits in term of corporate social responsibility.
Project foresees the production, use, evaluation and promotion of 5 intellectual outputs:
- IO1 - Living Labs and "Circularity matters: gaps, limits and constraints in the EU furniture industry" paper;
- IO2 - MOOC "Managing a furniture company in the era of circular economy";
- IO3 - Book of lectures "Integrated competencies and systemic approach in the era of circular economy";
- IO4 - Multi-actor circular network;
- IO5 - Circular Procurement Guidelines for Office Furniture.