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New average weights for furniture

The Furniture Re-use Network (FRN) has updated its average weights list. The list is more comprehensive than ever before, including items that had previously been missed out and breaking items down into different types, such as differentiating between cane conservatory-style sofas and regular household sofas. There are also listings for bathroom, garden, office and other bulky waste items which will inform bulky waste analysis work.

Caroline Lee-Smith, Development Officer for the FRN, comments that

“It has been commonly acknowledged that the existing set of standard weights was somewhat restrictive and the weight of some items were under-estimated. As the work on the Bulky Waste Best Practice Guidance started, I realised that this was causing groups a problem when it comes to estimating increased tonnages for funders, as weighbridge tickets were coming in with higher figures than those estimated.

The list is vastly improved, although I admit it could be even more accurate if a comprehensive piece of research was carried out to weigh a large sample of items over a period of time. However, for now I hope this goes some way to providing everyone with more accurate figures.”

The FRN analysed figures from 10 different sources. The main source of figures came from the “horses mouth”: furniture re-use organisations up and down the country that have weighed a range of items coming through their premises.

One such organisation is Essential Needs in Harrogate . Martin Brassington, the Project Manager explains

“Increasingly we are finding that the amount of goods that we are diverting from landfill is becoming one of the major benchmarks even though we are more concerned with social exclusion than with waste. What we do is have a “warehouse weighing session” once in a while - weigh all the items in the warehouse, add everything up and divide it out to get an average, and then review this with the weights that are in the database. Obviously if we haven't weighed many of the same items the "average" is going to be less reliable, but generally the weights will become increasingly reliable as each new input of adjustments are made. I’m glad the FRN is updating their average list as our local authority is setting up a re-use credits system and they will base it on this new improved list

Helen Mellor, Community Waste Management Officer, North Yorkshire County Council agrees

The community sector plays a vital role in the reduction, reuse and recycling of waste materials in North Yorkshire . The sector divert significant tonnages of re-usable items from landfill and up until now the sector have not been rewarded. We have recently launched our Third Party Re-use Credit Scheme which we hope will go some way to re-numerate the community sector for their contribution, not only to waste but also to social and economic agendas. This piece of work is very timely as the system we are putting in place relies on having an accurate list of average weights.”

Other sources of weight information used in the research included manufacturers weights, shipping weights, and standard items used by the UEA (Union Européenne de l’Ameublement) – the European Furniture Manufacturers Federation. One list was supplied by CRN Scotland. Linsay Chalmers, Furniture Projects Coordinator for CRNS explains that “when Transforming Waste (the Scottish version of CRED) was launched, there was general agreement that the weights on the FRN list were too low and we didn't want to tie our projects into a system that was going to undervalue them. The white goods weights are standards given to us by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and the furniture list was put together for us by one of our projects which has scales.

 We welcome the FRN’s new list as projects, funders, environmental regulatory bodies and Local Authorities all need to know the true tonnages diverted from landfill by this work.”

The list is available to download from the FRN website (www.frn.org.uk) and Discussions Board.

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