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Is the Interiors Industry in a waste crisis?


Haines Collection reducing textile waste in the interiors industry

The UK generates around 200 million tonnes of waste each year, 59% of which accounts for the construction industry – including interior fittings and fixtures. This is a vast proportion, so I find it a bit mad that there is so little research into waste management in the interiors industry. Are so few of us aware of this? Or, more worryingly, are people just choosing to ignore it?

With over six years experience of working in the Interiors Industry (specifically with furnishing fabrics) I've seen first hand how businesses are throwing away leftover textiles and materials. This mostly happens because it’s easier and quicker than dealing with them. 

That is why I created the Haines Collection; to be as hassle-free as throwing it in the bin – but at the same time being the more eco-friendly, and most profitable option for companies.

There is so much talk regarding textile waste in the clothing industry, but nothing about it in the world of interiors. I know that fast fashion is a bigger problem, but the interiors industry deals with huge volumes of fabric too.

Here are some numbers: according to European Federation of Furniture Manufacturers (UEA) statistics, 80% to 90% of the EU furniture waste in MSW (municipal solid waste) is incinerated or sent to landfill, with only 10% recycled. 

So little is recycled, and so much is burnt. Is this sustainable?

It’s reminiscent of fashion brands burning their unwanted stock until only very recently. Three years ago Burberry hit the news. They were burning old season handbags and unwanted stock. It was predicted that £28.6 million worth of stock was being destroyed every year. Why? To protect their brand, and to avoid an influx of reduced price items in the market. But Burberry wasn’t the only fashion house doing it; this was an accepted practice at the time. However, as soon as the public caught wind of what was happening, the negative impact on the brands was huge. Now they’re doing all they can to reverse the damage by introducing fashion lines using parts of old garments and saving all of their leather offcuts to give to businesses like Elvis & Kresse, who put them together to create new bags.

So I’m left thinking - is this where the interiors industry is now? I know for certain that high-end fabric designers are sending leftovers to landfill, just to avoid their products getting into the hands of unauthorised sellers. This is madness. The fashion and interiors industries run closely together, with trends in the former showing up in the latter a few years down the line. Is this, therefore, another trend that we will suddenly be waking up to three years from now?

Let’s start talking about waste in the interiors industry now. Let’s make changes today - small or large. It all helps to make a difference. Above all, spread the word. Let’s work together to avoid another crisis.


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