Office Furniture Recycling

The Importance Of Reuse

In this video we discuss the importance of reuse within the commercial office furniture sector. We are investing heavily in upcycling office furniture on a commercial scale and with this we want to share and educate organisations on how to get involved.

Most quality office furniture is now manufactured in a way where over 98% of the materials are recyclable but we are one step ahead as we believe 100% of quality manufactured office furniture is reusable and this is possible due to our facility here in Forton, Lancashire UK.

Are you a large organisation or FM service provider looking a more sustainable and ethical way to procure sustainable office furniture and ethical disposal? Get in touch!

Green Element Podcast

Managing Director Sam Coggin talks about upcycled and remanufactured office furniture and the importance of procurment for businesses that are aiming to be more sustainable during the aquasition, maintenance and disposal process.

We also touch on the difficulties that we are currently facing and if businesses buy upcycled office furniture for economic value or environmental benefits.

A special thanks to Will at Green Element for the opportunity to make this happen.

Let's Rethink...

Rethinking the way we purchase business office furniture is exactly what we want you to do. We want you to think about the impact and longevity of the furniture you are preparing to purchase and what happens when you get fed up with it or no longer need it.

Let's Reuse...

Reusing business office furniture has a huge beneficial impact on the environment and your budget, not only that if done correctly using our ethical disposal services your unwanted office furniture can be redistributed and reused by smaller businesses across Lancashire rather than ended up in your local landfill.

Let's Recycle...

Recycling office furniture is our last resort if certain products can’t be reused in their current original condition. We start a rigorous product break-down process that separates the all important recyclable materials. Close partnerships with local waste professionals has enabled us to get the best rates allowing us to be cost-effective on our disposal pricing structure.

A quick insight into the upcycling industry...

The benefits of upcycling for the upcycler may include:

  • Local jobs – upcycling activities usually take place close to market, so while a product may have originally been manufactured overseas, upcycling provides the opportunity for creating local jobs
  • Higher profit margins – upcycled products often have higher profit margins than for traditional manufacturing
  • Skilled jobs – upcycling is a great breeding ground for problem solving skills, more rewarding than production line jobs, and often retaining traditional industrial skill bases
  • New manufacturing techniques – leading edge upcycling embrace state-of-the-art manufacturing processes – lean techniques, investment in people, material traceability – because they are key to business success
  • Better customer relationships – through trade-in schemes, upcyclers can build a better relationship with their customers than those who rely on throw-away, one-off purchases

The benefits of upcycling for the environment may include:

  • Reduced raw material consumption – as upcycling preserves much of the material in original product, less raw material is used than for manufacturing new products. This is particularly beneficial where the product contains critical raw materials – materials where there is a supply risk.
  • Reduced energy consumption – by limiting the amount of raw material extracted/recycled and the manufacturing of new components, upcycling typically uses less energy than manufacturing a new product
  • Reduction in CO2 emissions – a reduction in energy consumption is usually accompanied by a reduction in CO2emissions
  • Reduction of material sent to landfill – not all end-of-life products and/or their components are suitable for recycling but instead end up in landfill. upcycling reduces this flow of material by keeping material in use for longer.

The benefits of upcycling for the customer may include:

  • Lower prices – upcycled products are typically 60-80% of the cost of a new product due to the cost savings made from the recovery of the materials and energy content of the product
  • Availability – for products that are manufactured to order overseas, a upcycling product may be available with a shorter lead time. Additionally, upcycling may allow the customer to continue to use equipment, which may no longer be manufactured
  • Purchasing flexibility – as upcyclers have a real interest in knowing where their products are and recovering them they may offer their customers a range of services offering more than just a sale. Leasing, take-back, upgrading, supply and operate provide gains for both parties: Capital costs can be amortized, supplier relationships can improve and “whole life solutions” mean there are no disposal worries at end of life.

The Importance Of Reuse Within The Waste Business Furniture Sector

Our key focus is to prevent as much commercial grade office furniture from going to landfill as possible. We work with clearance companies all over the UK as well as providing our own ethical disposal services in the effort to provide a more ethical and affordable approach to large office clearances.

TCG Sustain is our stamp of approval and commitment to providing quality upcycled commercial office furniture. Be sure to look out for our TCG Sustain products you may just be sat on one of our upcycled chairs or working at one of our upcycled workstations!

All office furniture which sits under the TCG Sustain brand is recycled. This enables us to provide affordable office furniture for owner-managed and large multi-national organisations across the North West. We pride ourselves on our attention to detail, exceptional skills and the processes we implement within the business to ensure all our recycled products are finished to the highest possible standard.

Office Desks

Approximately 200,000 desks (ca 5000 tonnes) are reused in some way in the UK every year. This is approximately 14% of desks reaching the end of their life each year. The remainder go to landfill, energy recovery and recycling.

The key environmental, financial and employment benefits associated with this reuse activity are:

  • Current levels of reuse of desks avoids 3,600 tonnes CO2-eq per year.
  • Providing 1 tonne of desks for direct reuse e.g. second hand shop or eBay can result in a net GHG savings of 0.4 tonnes CO2-eq when compared to landfill.
  • Providing 1 tonne of desks to a preparation for reuse network can result in a net GHG saving of 0.2 tonnes CO2-eq compared to landfill.
  • Each desk reused can yield over £80 net revenue to reuse organisations / government in combination (discounting wider costs or losses to householders, offices or businesses)
  • Businesses are estimated to spend £9 million per annum disposing of desks to landfill.
  • Businesses benefit by £8.2million per year as a result of purchasing reused desks in place of new desks. However, they also spend £13.9 million per year on reused desks which do not displace new products, giving a net cost to purchasing businesses of £5.7 million.
  • The net employment benefit of dealing with all desks that reach the end of their life today (business-as-usual) is 200 jobs. There are approximately 150 jobs in reuse organisations.
  • The most important parameter for all indicators is the extent of avoiding the purchase of new desks as a result of reuse – the so-called displacement effect. Figure i below shows how greenhouse savings vary with different displacement effects for preparation for reuse, with the current, business-as-usual situation highlighted in red. If all desks reused through this pathway were bought in place of new items, the greenhouse gas savings could increase to almost 2.5 tonnes CO2-eq per tonne desks. This highlights that the impact of reuse is determined by whether or not the person purchasing a reused desk does so in place of a new item or not.

Office Chairs

Approximately 295,000 office chairs (3,500 tonnes) are reused in some form in the UK every year. This represents 14% of all office chairs reaching the end of their life each year. The remaining 86% are sent to recycling, energy recovery or landfill.

The key environmental, financial and employment benefits associated with this reuse activity are:

  • Current levels of reuse of office chairs avoids 12,000 tonnes CO2-eq per year.
  • Providing 1 tonne of office chairs for direct reuse e.g. second-hand shop or eBay can result in a net GHG saving of 3 tonnes CO2-eq. This is just over 35kg CO2-eq per chair.
  • Providing 1 tonne of office chairs to a preparation for reuse network can result in a net GHG saving of 2.6 tonnes CO2-eq net. This is approximately 30kg CO2-eq per chair.
  • The proportion of chair requiring refurbishment does not significantly alter the environmental benefits of preparation for reuse. This is illustrated in figure ii below. The reason for this is the relatively low impact of refurbishment compared to the higher impact of avoided production.
  • As well as the carbon benefits, there are parallel resource and energy savings as a result of this reuse activity.
  • Each chair reused can yield over £6 net revenue to reuse organisations (discounting wider costs or losses to house holders, offices or businesses)
  • Business users and households benefit by over £6m per year as a result of sale of items through reuse exchange and avoiding purchase of (more expensive) new items.
  • The net employment benefit of dealing with all office chairs that reach the end of their life today (business-as- usual) is 20 jobs.

WRAPS estimates that office desks and chairs for about 21% and 13% respectively of all office furniture that reaches the end of its life in any particular year. The net benefits of reusing all office furniture are obviously even higher than for the individual categories above. The results above can be extrapolated for all office furniture, especially for the financial benefits. For the employment opportunities and environmental benefits, we recommend more caution as the results are strongly dependent on the question of whether or not reused items are more or less likely to substitute for imported or domestically produced goods and the material composition of the product.

The environmental impact of reuse is also influenced by the material composition of the reused item, and the item it displaces. Office chairs typically comprise several materials including materials with high carbon intensities. Desks generally comprise wood and small quantities of metal and plastic. As wood has a relatively low environmental impact under the indicators selected, the burden avoided by reuse is relatively small.

Download WRAPS Methodology For Quantifying The Environmental And Economic Impacts Of Reuse

Smoke & Mirrors? Not Here...

We have always taken pride in doing exactly what we preach. Doing things ourselves and staying independent has really stood us apart from the rest in our industry. In 2011 we relocated to a rundown premises in Forton, Lancashire that used to be an old woodturning facility. Over 50 decades old this facility definitely has its quirks but it suits our operations just fine, for now that is…

Housing over 3000 pre-upcycled office furniture products with upcycling workshops and specialists has now turned this facility into a thriving place of reuse for small businesses across Lancashire, larger organasations benefit from utilising our re-upholstery and product resizing services.

With resources more scarce than ever we have made it our priority to shout about the importance of reuse with the business furniture sector, critics often bring up capabilities and feasibility issues due to the lack of information around upcycling and the benefits not only for their organisation but other small businesses. The bigger organisations generally have large budget which mean they can afford top quality office furniture which is great. We are not saying you shouldn’t buy new furniture but you should be as focused on the afterlife of your office furniture as well as the aesthetics.

If your organisation is looking for a more sustainable solution with regards to the procurement of new and/or upcycled office furniture and services then get in touch. It would be great to discuss your current issues with waste and renewing, we have decades of experience in this sector so your time will not be wasted and you’ll wonder why you didn’t get in touch sooner.

Support Us & Become More Sustainable Today!

Becoming a client of The Coggin Group and supporting our TCG Sustain brand will not only allow us to make a bigger difference towards the amount of waste office furniture we can upcycle, but you will also benefit from huge cost savings and more importantly you will be saving our planet.