Steelcase, a global office environments manufacturer, and the Institution Recycling Network (IRN) have joined together to find eco-friendly ways for organizations to recycle or reuse their unneeded office furniture.
Through Steelcase’s Environmental Partnership Program, the two companies finding new homes for office furniture with national and international non-profit organizations.
Many U.S. cities devastated by natural disasters and developing communities looking to improve their schools, clinics and businesses have received donated furniture. Recently in the U.S., large quantities of furniture are being directed to reconstruction projects in Texas following Hurricane Ike.
“Furniture that is no longer needed by one organization can provide tremendous value to another. We have found that there is limitless demand for the furniture that is discarded every day,” said Nancy Hickey, senior vice president and chief administrative officer, Steelcase Inc. “We want to not only help organizations responsibly and effectively manage their unused furniture, but extend the life of that furniture into other businesses and communities that need it.”
Launched in 2004, the Steelcase Environmental Partnership is “the first program in its industry to help businesses determine and implement the best end-of-life furniture strategy for their furniture – regardless of who originally manufactured it.” The program helps organizations refurbish, sell, donate or recycle furniture, always with the goal in mind of minimizing waste sent to landfills.
“In the U.S. and around the world, there’s tremendous need for furnishings to outfit schools, clinics, hospitals, businesses and homes that have been devastated by hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters,” said Mark Lennon, principal, IRN.
Fighting Irish Save $
Earlier this month, the University of Notre Dame Law School moved into a new 85,000 square foot facility. After consulting with Business Furnishings, a Steelcase dealer, the university was introduced to the company’s furniture matching program. IRN removed the furniture, matching it with Food for the Poor, a non-profit organization. Through this match, more than 1,600 pieces of furniture will be diverted from landfill to charitable organizations in Jamaica and Haiti.
To top it off, donating the furniture actually cost the university less than discarding it. “We try to reuse all we can that comes out of old facilities through our on-campus surplus program,” said Julie Boynton, senior project manager for interiors in Notre Dame’s Office of the University Architect. “In the case of the law school, there was so much, the surplus program didn’t have room for it all. In this partnership with Steelcase and IRN, we’ve found an answer to this problem that is a win-win-win: The furniture isn’t going to a landfill, two worthy charities are receiving much needed furnishings, and the project actually saved Notre Dame money. It cost $14,000 to have IRN recycle the furniture, but would have cost around $20,000 to send it all to a landfill — not to mention the untold cost to the environment.”