4.10 FORWARD – Furniture waste for circular design

Perriccioli Massimo, Rigillo Marina
Gennaio 2023
Dicembre 2025
Università degli studi di Napoli Federico II
  • Università degli Studi di Palermo
  • Università degli Studi di Firenze
4.10 FORWARD – Furniture waste for circular design

The proposal works in the field of systemic design. This latter operates consistently within the circular economy theory because the interaction of output and inputs between systems. The research Scope is to implement circular supply chains within the furniture sector (SME, especially) in those territories which are characterized by small and scattered enterprises, not able to achieve innovation autonomously.
The general aim is to facilitate the access to innovation of SMEs in the furniture sector. The specific aim is the implementation of dedicated devices, both physical and virtual, as prime tools to facilitate SME’s access to innovation through a collaborative approach. This latter will be done through the transfer of knowledge and technologies. Further will be in the fields of training and capacity building, fostering the relations between design, manufacturing, and territories.
The proposal is in line with the European strategies (COM/2019/640 final, COM(2020) 98 final) due to it enhances circular economy models and reduces the environmental impact of manufacturing processes. The research focuses on the furniture sector, especially deepening the wooden manufacturing.
The EU wooden furnishings industry is estimated to use of 55.8% of wasted materials, but only 17.3% are recycled, at present (Circularity Gap Report, 2023). Despite the positive results in terms of volume recovered, systematic actions for the re-use, recovery and recycling of wood waste are not standardised under operational guidelines or protocols in Italy. Thus, circular supply chains fail to be fully implemented, notably when referred to small or very small enterprises in the most vulnerable socio-technical context. The lack of information and procedure, as well as the criticalities in terms of availability and costs in re-introducing Secondary Raw Materials (SRMs) in the production cycles represent further barriers to enhance a second-use market, and to drive the development of circular supply chains.
According to this scenario, the research aims at providing a “tailor-made” approach to address small and very small enterprises toward the fields of research and development (R&D).

The main criticalities are:

1) The lack of reliable and complete dataset to address operative guidelines or protocols for developing circular supply chain within the wooden furniture market.

2) A still fragile organization of production chains and stakeholder networks, especially in the most fragile territories.

3) A poor focus on design, despite its key role as a catalyst for providing product and process innovation within the sector.
In this framework, the research aims at promoting the EU expected transition goals towards a circular design approach. Notably, the research boosts for facilitating knowledge sharing between innovators and local producers through the co-design of “tailor-made” tools, methods, and protocols.
The research is designed to provide:

  • the implementation of a digital platform.
  • the implementation of a mobile laboratory.
  • a pilot project for testing innovative materials and products in the wooden furniture supply chain, also implementing techno-cycles through the industrial symbiosis.

The FORWARD project is structured in 5 OR. According to this, for each OR a correspondent WP have been selected from the list. The expected results are the following:
OR1. WP4.1_Spoke management:
▪ ensuring the compliance of WPs and tasks with the research program and the project schedule.
▪ providing an effective communication with both Spoke 4 and MICS Boards.
▪ preparing the open calls connected to the project.
Specific outputs will be:
– 4 steering committees.
– 1 operative handbook
– 1 Mid Term Report
OR2. WP1.2_ Portfolio of digitally enhanced solutions for industrial design:
▪ recognizing strengths and criticalities of the wooden furniture SME.
▪ depicting the effective field-of-action for the Southern Italy territories.
▪ mapping territories, companies, and users in the field of wooden furniture.
▪ addressing design strategies to provide tailor-made solutions.
▪ addressing design services for the wooden furniture sector in weak territories.
According to the selected KER, the output will be:
– Interactive dataset for developing circular and sustainable supply chain in the furniture sector.
– 1 digital platform, designed to provide effective services such as dedicated database, tailor-made protocols, advisory support, training, acting as a proof of concept of improved knowledge exchange between different stakeholder within the furniture sector
OR3. WP4.2_ Smart, functionalized, nanostructured and sustainable materials:
▪ providing design approaches tailored for the upcycling of wooden scraps and waste in the furniture sector.
▪ depicting design methodologies for improving the wooden furniture sector according to the Circular Economy principles.
▪ addressing design strategies and tools to provide tailor-made solutions.
According to the selected KER, the output will be:
– 1 pilot project will be carry out as a lab testing of innovative design solutions for the upcycling of wooden stock products in the furniture sector
OR4. WP4.4_ Circular Technologies for sustainable Made in Italy
WP3.3_ Materials from non-critical and residual sources:
▪ assessing the recycling potential of wooden scraps and wastes in designing new materials and PSS lifecycles.
▪ developing new opportunities for the industrial symbiosis in the wooden furniture sector.
implementing sustainable value chains and circular technologies.
According to the selected KER, the output will be:
– 1 pilot project will be carry out as a lab testing of innovative materials coming from the recycling of wooden scraps
OR5. WP5.2_ Circular and Sustainable Factory:
▪ developing the social awareness and educational opportunities for circular, sustainable, and inclusive manufacturing.
▪ providing effective opportunities for developing a peer-to-peer knowledge transfer.
▪ rooting circular principles in the postgraduate education and academic courses.
According to the selected KER, the output will be a set of Education and training activities for students, researchers, and stakeholders:
– 1 mobile-Lab.
– 1 Living Lab.
– 2 Education & training activities for PhD students.
– 1 conference for scholars and researchers.
– 1 events with selected experts and stakeholders