Teknion Divert: Giving Furniture a 2nd Life

Published: March 3, 2020

Teknion Divert: Giving Furniture a 2nd Life

A sustainable manufacturer is one that 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 biggest 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

The influx of waste in landfills harms humans as harmful gases (CO2 and methane) are emitted, compromising air quality and toxic chemicals leach into soil and groundwater, eventually ending up in our bodies. Teknion recognized the imperative to create a restorative end-of-life solution for furniture products (Teknion and competitor) and proceeded to launch a program called Divert. Divert is a landfill diversion program focused on creating financially, socially, and environmentally-sustainable channels for furniture.

The first channel is liquidation. Teknion engages regional partners to assess the value of the furniture and offer a liquid offer to the end user. 100% of the funds return to the end user. The second pathway is donation. We encourage end users to engage recipients that they are already connected to. However, Teknion has 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 (to manage risk), the Divert team maintains relationships with the furniture recipients, ensuring that the products are recycled at their end-of-life. End users that chose the donation pathway are also eligible for a charitable tax receipt. The final solution is recycling. Teknion 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 is returned to the end user. Teknion purchases materials and components from the same recycling streams that Divert furniture adds to, creating an indirect closed loop system. 

Participating in Divert is an incredibly easy commitment as Teknion’s internal team and the regional partners collaborate to handle the project management, pickup logistics, and detailed sustainability reporting. Entities participating in Divert are enabled to participate hands-off after registering a project with Divert.  Additionally, the cost of the service is competitive with the cost of sending furniture to the landfill.

To get started with Teknion Divert, email divertnow@teknion.com or reach out to VCO Contact.

Written by Jarami Bond, Sustainability Strategist at Teknion