Reuse and Recycling: The Future of Office Refurbs
A well delivered office refurbishment will refresh a tired workspace and better reflect an organisation’s brand.
In addition to this it should also make the workspace work harder and support an organisation with their CSR and sustainability goals.
Traditionally, an office refurbishment has meant out with the old and in with the new. Office furniture has often been treated as a short term disposable item.
However, businesses are now finding that integrating reuse and recycling into office refurbishment can help deliver improved working environments whilst making cost savings on more traditional approaches.
Money saved can be then be diverted to create better meeting, break out and recreational areas, benefiting both the employees and the employer.
Overcoming barriers to reuse
Facility Managers have met barriers to this more sustainable approach to refurbishment due to issues of quality.
With many concerns around lack of credible warranties and staff perception about reused furniture, but these can be easily overcome.
Providers of good quality remanufactured products should provide warranties equivalent to those for new products.
Installing a trial remodelled desk, screen, chair and producing information on the sustainable savings can help change this perception.
This enables stakeholders to see the quality of the products including the financial benefits, through these improved break out, meeting and recreational areas.
Resizing office desks
There is a clear trend towards smaller desks due to the need to fit in more desks in an office space. Remodelling makes the most of the quality furniture in which organisations have already invested.
Waste Resources Action Programme’s (WRAP) researched the financial and environmental benefits of furniture remodelling, and found:
- Increased productivity of workspace – remodelling desks can save office space and increase productivity by up to 35%.
- Reduced costs of office space – savings up to £90,000 per annum in office space costs.
- Reduced environmental impact – on average every ten office desks remodelled saves a tonne of C02(e).
- Remanufactured desks cost typically 30% or less than the cost of new desks.
Wider reuse opportunities
Acoustic screens and notice boards can be reupholstered to match new colour schemes, incorporating greater vibrancy into an office and achieving a consistent look that incorporates brand themes.
Reuse can also be achieved through the infrastructure in an office refurbishment. For example, reusing glass panels, cleaning and reusing ceiling tiles, resizing reception desks and re-topping cupboards.
With the wide range of opportunities available, reuse can take significant pressure off Facility Managers budgets and these savings can be reallocated.
With being spent on the more ‘nice to have’ elements of an office refurbishment that might otherwise fall outside the budget.
Dealing with unwanted furniture
Reuse plays an important role in reducing waste generated during an office refurbishment.
However, there are also other forms of waste minimisation such as recycling and recovery. These provide not just environmental benefits but also social benefits.
Good quality office furniture can be provided for resale, contributing towards the budget for a refurbishment.
Furniture and equipment can be donated to schools, charities and social enterprises. This benefits the recipients and contributes to an organisation’s corporate social responsibility agenda.
A single comprehensive solution from your service provider can deliver, and report back on, these environmental, financial and social outcomes with no additional burden on the time-poor Facility Manager.
The way forward
With sustainability creating a huge challenge for Facility Managers, integrating reuse and recycling into refurbishment provides a great opportunity to combine environmental and social benefits.
This includes cost savings and generating an even greater feel good factor in the office than a traditional refurbishment.
Five things you might not know about reuse
- Approximately 1.2 million ofﬁce desks and 1.8 million ofﬁce chairs end up in UK landﬁll each year
- A remanufactured desk cost typically 30% or less than the cost of a new desk
- Remanufactured products can come with one to five year warranties equivalent to new products
- Simple reuse of an office desk can cut its carbon footprint by 36% and replacement of just the desk top cuts its footprint by 18%
- Refurbishment/repair of an office chair can reduce its carbon footprint by 45%
Figures from Waste and Resource Action Programme (WRAP)– Benefits of Reuse A Case Study Office Furniture 2011 and www.wrap.org.uk.
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