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Innovative circular solutions for furniture
Horizon Europe - Cluster 6 - Destination 3: Circular Economy and Bioeconomy Sectors
Estimated EU contribution per project
Link to the call
Link to the submission
A successful proposal will contribute to the following Destination impacts: i) enhance European industrial sustainability, competitiveness and resource independence, and ii) improve on consumer and citizen benefits.
Predominantly consisting of SMEs, the EU furniture industry employs around one million European workers and manufactures approximately a quarter of the world’s furniture, representing a EUR 84 billion market equating to an EU28 consumption of ~10.5 million tons of furniture per annum. Despite a notable degree of knowledge and awareness of CE principles, analyses conducted in the framework of luxury furniture show that the involvement of furniture companies in CE practices, in particular those concerning reuse and recycle actions, is still marginal, and very limited use of process and product certifications has been noted.179 According to the findings of an EU-funded project180, furniture waste in the EU accounts for more than 4% of the total municipal solid waste stream. Waste arising from commercial sources is assumed to contribute 18% of total furniture waste generation across the sector. Total annual EU furniture waste equates to 10.78 million tonnes. According to European Federation of Furniture Manufacturers statistics, 80% to 90% of the EU furniture waste in MSW is incinerated or sent to landfill, with ~10% recycled. Reuse activity in the sector is considered low. Where reuse does occur, it is mostly through commercial second-hand shops, social enterprise companies or charities.
Six key cycles can be highlighted to make furniture more circular. All proposals should target several of these cycles:
- Maintain – using preventative maintenance to maximise product lifetime, e.g., a chair remains a chair;
- Repair – corrective maintenance, e.g., a chair remains a chair;
- Reuse – redistributing products through a change in ownership, e.g., a chair remains a chair;
- Refurbish or remanufacture products to optimize lifetime, e.g., by resizing a desk or changing the appearance of a chair through re-upholstering to extend ‘fashion’ service life, or resizing desks;
- Repurpose – change functionality of the product, e.g., a desk becomes a table;
- Recycle – recovering the value of components and materials for feedstock as secondary materials in new products.
Key strategies to achieve the circularity transition are circular design including the smart use of biobased materials, a shift from products to services, extended product life through design, safe and circular material choices, increased material efficiency, and modular design. It is evident that circularity concepts must be anchored in the design phase of products and aim at the user. All proposals should therefore address to some extent circular design strategies.
Projects should demonstrate and deploy at large scale innovative solutions and designs for increased quality, non-toxicity and durability of secondary and renewable materials and increased share of secondary and renewable materials in new products. Projects should demonstrate increased recovery, recycling and upcycling rates and a higher uptake of secondary materials for high value applications. Projects should also demonstrate circular business practices, in particular in the uptake of repair and reuse, remanufacture, product-service-systems, and in the full lifetime of products or services. To achieve this, targeted market size, economic feasibility, cost efficiency and social acceptance need to be addressed. To break down the barriers for this transition, it is important that proposals involve and address the different perspectives of all relevant actors, e.g., manufacturers, retailers, consumers and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). Proposals should consider the use of digital solutions (including technologies such as AI, robotics, IoT and blockchain) in particular with a view to the implementation of the digital product passport, and demonstrate their benefits for increased circularity. They should also help produce harmonised and robust methods to assess the amount of recycled content in sectoral products, which is key for a future review of green claims through authorities and consumer organisations. Environmental, social and economic impacts should be assessed from a lifecycle perspective as product, organisation and consumption environmental footprints, using the respective methods developed by the European Commission (Product Environmental Footprint, PEF, should be used for the assessment of the environmental impacts) and through costing methods and a dynamic LCA; relevant data should be fed into the European Platform on Life Cycle Assessment, following the specific Environmental Footprint data and format requirements. The functional performance of technologies and secondary materials can be assessed through the EU Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) scheme. Considering the microplastics and microfiber pollution and hazardous substances that are present in the targeted waste streams, their removal from the materials used for the products in concern as well as from the recovered material is crucial, in addition to applying less-polluting production and consumption procedures. Decontamination levels need to be properly addressed and accumulation prevented. Proposals should fully incorporate the Safe and Sustainable by Design (SSbD) approach. All results should be validated using quantitative indicators and targets wherever possible.
Proposals should also envisage policy recommendations for increased warranty and cascading use. They should also provide for the development of training material to endow workers in this occupational group with the right skillset in order to deploy the new technologies developed. Proposals should consider the development of learning resources for the current and future generations of employees, with the possibility to integrate them in existing curricula and modules for undergraduate level and lifelong learning programmes. The projects should provide contributions to relevant standards or best practices.
Social innovation is recommended when the solution is at the socio-technical interface and requires social change, new social practices, social ownership or market uptake.
To the extent that proposed solutions will address the role of the consumer, proposals should seek to contribute to the goals and cooperate with the services of the European Commission’s Circular Cities and Regions Initiative (CCRI). Joint activities with CCRI projects are encouraged.
Proposal results are expected to contribute to all of the following outcomes:
- Increased deployment and demonstrated benefits of advanced digital solutions (e.g., through AI, robotics, IoT, blockchain) in circular businesses including waste management and recycling
- Emergence of new value chains using upcycled, recycled and/or biobased;
- resources, e.g. through industrial symbiosis, with particular attention to SMEs;
- Increased recycling rates and upcycling to new higher-value products;
- Increased uptake of recycled and/or renewable material;
- Increased deployment and market uptake of circular design, including design for easy maintenance, repair, remanufacturing and recycling;
- Increased reuse, refurbishment and remanufacturing rates and diffusion of new circular business practices, in particular in the uptake of repair, reuse, refurbishment and remanufacturing;
- Increased resource efficiency along and across value chains, causing a measurable reduction in GHG emissions, release of microplastics, other environmental pollution, and in the use of hazardous substances, and an increase of carbon removals.
Regions / countries for funding
Moldova (Moldova), Albania (Shqipëria), Armenia (Հայաստան), Azerbaijan (Azərbaycan), Belarus (Беларусь), Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosna i Hercegovina / Босна и Херцеговина), Faeroes (Føroyar / Færøerne), Georgia (საქართველო), Island (Ísland), Israel (ישראל / إِسْرَائِيل), Kosovo (Kosova/Kosovë / Косово), Montenegro (Црна Гора), Morocco (المغرب), New Zealand (Aotearoa), North Macedonia (Северна Македонија), Norway (Norge), Serbia (Srbija/Сpбија), Tunisia (تونس /Tūnis), Türkiye, Ukraine (Україна), United Kingdom
Education and training institution, International organization, Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) / Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Other, Private institution, incl. private company (private for profit), Public Body (national, regional and local; incl. EGTCs), Research Institution incl. University, Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME)
To be eligible for funding, applicants must be established in one of the following countries:
- the Member States of the European Union, including their outermost regions
- the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) linked to the Member States
- third countries associated to Horizon Europe - see list of particpating countries
Only legal entities forming a consortium are eligible to participate in actions provided that the consortium includes, as beneficiaries, three legal entities independent from each other and each established in a different country as follows:
- at least one independent legal entity established in a Member State; and
- at least two other independent legal entities, each established in different Member States or Associated Countries.
Any legal entity, regardless of its place of establishment, including legal entities from non-associated third countries or international organisations (including international European research organisations) is eligible to participate (whether it is eligible for funding or not), provided that the conditions laid down in the Horizon Europe Regulation have been met, along with any other conditions laid down in the specific call topic.
A ‘legal entity’ means any natural or legal person created and recognised as such under national law, EU law or international law, which has legal personality and which may, acting in its own name, exercise rights and be subject to obligations, or an entity without legal personality.
- Affiliated entities — Affiliated entities (i.e. entities with a legal or capital link to a beneficiary which participate in the action with similar rights and obligations to the beneficiaries, but which do not sign the grant agreement and therefore do not become beneficiaries themselves) are allowed, if they are eligible for participation and funding.
- Associated partners — Associated partners (i.e. entities which participate in the action without signing the grant agreement, and without the right to charge costs or claim contributions) are allowed, subject to any conditions regarding associated partners set out in the specific call conditions.
- Entities without legal personality — Entities which do not have legal personality under their national law may exceptionally participate, provided that their representatives have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf, and offer guarantees to protect the EU’s financial interests equivalent to those offered by legal persons.
- EU bodies — Legal entities created under EU law including decentralised agencies may be part of the consortium, unless provided for otherwise in their basic act.
- Joint Research Centre (‘JRC’)— Where provided for in the specific call conditions, applicants may include in their proposals the possible contribution of the JRC but the JRC will not participate in the preparation and submission of the proposal. Applicants will indicate the contribution that the JRC could bring to the project based on the scope of the topic text. After the evaluation process, the JRC and the consortium selected for funding may come to an agreement on the specific terms of the participation of the JRC. If an agreement is found, the JRC may accede to the grant agreement as beneficiary requesting zero funding or participate as an associated partner, and would accede to the consortium as a member.
- Associations and interest groupings — Entities composed of members (e.g. European research infrastructure consortia (ERICs)) may participate as ‘sole beneficiaries’ or ‘beneficiaries without legal personality’. However, if the action is in practice implemented by the individual members, those members should also participate (either as beneficiaries or as affiliated entities, otherwise their costs will NOT be eligible.
other eligibility criteria
Activities should reach TRL 6-8 by the end of the project.
Relevance for EU Macro-Region
EUSAIR - EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, EUSALP - EU Strategy for the Alpine Space, EUSBSR - EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, EUSDR - EU Strategy for the Danube Region
UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs)
All proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funders & Tenders Portal electronic submission system (accessible via the topic page in the Search Funding & Tenders section). Paper submissions are NOT possible.
Proposals must be complete and contain all parts and mandatory annexes and supporting documents, e.g. plan for the exploitation and dissemination of the results including communication activities, etc.
The application form will have two parts:
- Part A (to be filled in directly online) contains administrative information about the applicant organisations (future coordinator and beneficiaries and affiliated entities), the summarised budget for the proposal and call-specific questions;
- Part B (to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and then assembled and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system) contains the technical description of the project.
Annexes and supporting documents will be directly available in the submission system and must be uploaded as PDF files (or other formats allowed by the system).
The limit for a full application (Part B) is 45 pages.