Increasingly businesses are under pressure to demonstrate their eco-credentials. Growing awareness has resulted in businesses setting their own goals and making sustainability an important part of their company decisions.
As far back as 2011, a global survey by McKinsey argued that there was a business case for sustainability that went far beyond positive market perception.
Office furniture is one area where businesses can make a significant impact on carbon emissions. Every year 10 million tons of furniture is discarded in the EU. The majority of this is incinerated or destined for landfill. With a typical five-year buying cycle, the sheer volume of commercial furniture contributing to this should concern everyone in the supply chain.
Circular Plan for Office Furniture
At Bureau Group we champion sustainable procurement and the use of sustainable materials – but that’s not enough. Furniture procurement and supply must be part of a circular economy plan. If there isn’t a plan for the furniture replaced or for the end of life of the new furniture, then it isn't sustainable. A 'cradle-to-cradle' solution which re-uses resources and reduces waste is our goal and the goal of the circular economy. Sustainable means maintaining the products that we have and conserving materials already in use. Striving towards a circular office and extending the life of products should be a priority.
Facilities Managers will be accustomed to a five-year cycle in a workplace. It may be as part of an office move or a refurbishment of the current space. In the past, little consideration would have been given to unwanted office desks or office seating, resulting in a lot of waste product going to landfill.
But there is an alternative and not only is it more sustainable, but it's also cost effective too. Using an office furniture repair service can keep office chairs, desks, and seating in use far longer than the standard term. Upcycled furniture minimises waste and is the ultimate sustainable furniture in workspace.
Reduce Carbon with Re-Use of Furniture
The next best option is restoring office furniture through refurbishment. It's more carbon intensive than re-use but can extend the life of furniture that has suffered wear and tear or is looking tired and dated. There is far less carbon emitted than when purchasing new and it contributes significantly to avoided carbon emissions by keeping furniture out of landfill.
With our own refurbishment centre, we help end user clients and manufacturers restore furniture to as good as new condition. Because our upholstery service has a wide range of fabrics and finishes, furniture can be customised to fit with a new workspace design. Customers own material (COM) can also be used.
Our refurbished furniture service aims to keep the quality high, so there are still associated carbon costs. But these are substantially less than purchasing new. Undertaking consultation work for a leading bank (see case study below - Carbon consultancy for leading UK bank) uncovered the difference and the carbon saved.
Circular Economy Principles
Reducing waste and carbon by re-using or restoring existing office furniture is part of circular office principles. Furniture that is not re-usable or cannot be restored can be broken down for recycling as a last resort. Speak to our team about the alternatives for the office furniture solutions that you no longer need. We can support you with remanufacturing services, new upholstery for office furniture, donation to charity or recycling.
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