Companies like Systems Commercial see a lot of sales, as companies across the world look to furnish their offices. The tradeoff being that there’s also more furniture waste being produced and heading to landfills.
Data from the EPA says that the amount of furniture and furnishings taken to landfills has jumped up to 9.69 million tonnes in 2015, compared to the 7.6 million tonnes in 2005, and that this number is growing at an accelerating rate.
A Canadian company, Green Standards, have opted to do something about it, with their business model revolving around helping other companies and startups donate, recycle, or resell their office furniture to stores like Systems Commercial, in order to lessen the furniture waste going to landfills. Since 2010, the company has managed to divert at least 50,000 tonnes of furniture from landfills in North America, while managing to donate a total of about $25 million worth of furniture to nonprofit organisations.
Marc Borins, from Green Standards, explains that, when companies see the value in donating their unused furniture to local nonprofits or reselling them, compared to having to spend money to dump the stuff into a landfill, then it’s a no-brainer. He says that it’s a win for everyone involved, and why Green Standards are working to popularize the practice.
Green Standards works with companies moving to a new office space, or getting new furniture for their current office, wherein they work to resell the more expensive pieces in order to offset the costs of furnishing the office space. Most of the inventory, however, gets donated to a local nonprofit, which lets the company get deductions on their taxes.
The company also does what it can to recycle the furniture they work, but given that a lot of furniture is made from different materials, this isn’t always the case. Only when the pieces can’t be resold, donated, or recycled do they get sent to a landfill.
The company reports that 98.6% of the office furniture it’s worked with, acquired primarily from California and Texas thanks to their thriving corporate sectors, have been recycled, resold or donated, cutting in about 180,000 tonne2 reduction in CO2 emissions since 2009.
Awareness of furniture waste has been growing alongside the popularity of flatpack furniture companies. IKEA has announced that they’re testing a furniture rental programme, while furniture rental startups have grown in prominence.