Giving Furniture A Second Life
Published: March 3, 2020
Sustainability + Manufacturing
A sustainable manufacturer embraces the circular economy. According to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, the circular economy is based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems. Historically, the furniture industry has participated in the take-make-waste industrial model, leading to some pretty staggering statistics.
According to data gathered by Rubicon Global:
- Nine-tenths of all solid waste in the United States does not get recycled.
- Landfills are among the most significant contributors to soil pollution – roughly 80% of the items buried in landfills could be recycled.
- According to Environmental Protection Agency estimates, approximately 3 million tons of office furniture and furnishings are discarded each year.
But it’s not all doom-and-gloom. Furniture landfill waste can be avoided by pursuing three possible sustainable alternatives: liquidation, donation, and recycling. Each of these environmentally sustainable disposal methods has comparable costs to sending furniture to a landfill.
Through a Teknion program called Divert, The Collective and Teknion focus on creating financially, socially, and environmentally sustainable channels for furniture.
Reducing Furniture’s Environmental Footprint Three Ways
Liquidation, the process of exchanging old furniture for cash or ‘liquid’ asset, is the most common furniture disposal for its simplicity. This method allows businesses to quickly remove their old furniture and materials, so it is often deployed during projects with a short time horizon.
The Collective and Teknion engage regional partners to assess the value of the furniture. Under the Divert program, 100% of the furniture value returns to the end-user.
Donations are another method to rid of unwanted furniture while also benefitting the local community. In many cases, end-users are eligible for a charitable tax receipt.
Through the Divert program, Teknion and The Collective have access to a robust portfolio of regional non-profits, schools, and charities who could benefit from a space transformed by high-quality, modern furniture. Following the donation, Teknion’s internal Divert team can create marketing resources to help the end-user tell the impactful, social stories resulting from their philanthropic donation. Even after the legal transfer of title is executed, the Divert team maintains relationships with the furniture recipients, ensuring that the products are recycled at their end of life.
The final solution is recycling, an often overlooked yet highly environmental solution to dispose of furniture.
The Divert program works with furniture decommissioners who distribute the product components through the proper recycling channels. Similar to the liquidation channel, the value of these product components are returned to the end-user. Teknion purchases materials and parts from the same recycling streams that Divert furniture adds to, creating an indirect closed-loop system.
Participating in Divert is an effortless commitment as Teknion’s internal team and the regional partners collaborate to handle all the project management, pickup logistics, and detailed sustainability reporting.
To get started with a furniture liquidation or recycling project, contact us.
For questions specifically about Divert’s program, email firstname.lastname@example.org.