From Waste to Resource: An Evaluation of Circular Economy Practices in the Furniture Production

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Poster Number:  17 

Main Presenter:    Inês Costa 

Co-Authors:   Bruno Silva     Catarina Basto-Silva                                          

In the modern era, there is a rising interest in adopting a circular economy, emphasizing sustainability and effective resource consumption. In the past furniture was a very expensive item and long an entire lifetime. However, in an ever-changing world, furniture has become cheaper and with a short shelf life. This mass-production model brings an additional problem, meaning more waste to manage. In this context, the present study aims to produce and assess the environmental performance of boards produced with up to 90% of undervalued material that is now considered waste material. These boards can be used as furniture in tables and the environmental performance of these boards will be compared with the traditional ones used for the same function.
To evaluate the environmental impacts, it was used the International Standard Rules, ISO 14040 (2006) and ISO14044 (2008), which include four mandatory steps: (i) goal and scope definition, (ii) life cycle inventory, (iii) life cycle impact analysis, and (iv) interpretation of results. The life cycle assessment approach followed the concept from “cradle to grave” with system boundaries including raw material supply, transport, manufacturing, assembly, and waste processing. Excluded from the study were aspects such as infrastructure and equipment construction, end-of-life of capital goods, wastes from administration, laboratory, or offices, as well as final product distribution and end-of-life. The functional unit was defined as the production of 1 m3 of board, employing mass allocation and an attributional approach. The environmental assessment was evaluated in SimaPro software (version 9.5.0.1, PRé Sustainability, The Netherlands), and the background data was collected from the
Ecoinvent database (version 3.9.1).
The project is still running, but preliminary results expect a significant decrease in the environmental impacts through the incorporation of waste material in the production of these boards as furniture components. This research promotes waste reduction and environmental conservation by emphasizing the importance of a circular economy. It highlights the incorporation of waste materials and advocates for a society that values longevity over consumerism, emphasizing the role of education in fostering sustainability.

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