Furniture Recycling: Good for the Environment
As we all look for new ways to reduce, reuse and recycle, here are just a few examples of how buying recycled office furniture helps our environment:
Conserving Natural Resources
Because fewer raw materials are used, refurbishing conserves energy and natural resources. Office furniture recycling extends the lives of resources already in circulation such as aluminum, steel, plastics and fiber, using them over and over to the fullest extent possible. Industry experts estimate that for each pound of natural resources used in remanufacturing, five to nine pounds of original materials are conserved!
*FACT: Furniture is currently one of the least recycled goods in the U.S.
Solid Waste Stream Reduction
By recycling office furniture, the products as well as the natural resources are diverted from the solid waste stream. The EPA has estimated that approximately 8.5 million tons of office furniture and furnishings are discarded each year up from 3 million tons just 12 years ago. This is projected to increase by another 6 percent by next year. For example, fabrics in panel systems tend to wear out and the colors become outdated. By refurbishing, the fabrics can be replaced and the office furniture returned to the market for a second life. Recycling results in fewer products filling up limited landfill space.
*FACT: A significant proportion (19.5 percent) of furniture and furnishings was combusted for energy recovery in 2017, but the majority of this product sector was landfilled (80.2 percent).
Recycling office furniture conserves labor and manufacturing energy. The amount of labor and energy required to alter an existing product during refurbishing is 85 to 95 percent less than that required to manufacture a new product. And, since much of the product has already been manufactured, refurbishing saves the enormous amounts of energy required for production, especially when metals are kept out of the re-smelting process.
*FACT: Refurbishing or reusing just 40 cubicles diverts one tractor trailer load of furniture from a landfill.
For furniture that is in very poor condition with no recycling market, we can identify a safe disposal outlet. This may also be the only outlet for certain furniture items that have been treated with lead-based paint or flame retardants, which are hazardous to people’s health, precluding them from reuse.