Throughout the years, the destination for most old furniture has been the landfill, especially when it
comes to the recycling and reuse of office furniture. This is because, for both users and providers, this
disposal method is the simplest and most cost-effective choice.
However, the global pandemic outbreak has reminded us once again that worldwide crises can arise at
any moment. Low-carbon environmental protection and sustainable development are issues that require
our utmost attention.
1、Why is it so difficult to recycle and reuse
According to statistics from relevant organizations, the recycling rates of waste have increased in various
regions of the UK over the past year. Out of 4,729 surveyed UK adults, 89% stated that they frequently
recycle waste, and 56% claimed to have recycled more waste in the past year. However, these figures do
not reflect the recycling and reuse rates of waste materials in the commercial sector, particularly in office
In 2020, the UK government released a document addressing waste prevention in England, emphasizing
the importance of resource efficiency. This included not only increasing recycling rates but also reducing
the amount of waste generated. Wales and Scotland have been at the forefront, introducing circular
For office furniture manufacturers and service providers closely associated with workplace environments,
recycling old furniture poses more challenges. The production costs of most office furniture are evidently
lower compared to the costs of reusing and repairing old furniture. Similarly, for users, purchasing new
furniture is often more convenient and cost-effective than reuse and repair. Moreover, logistics issues and
the associated costs of transporting individual products back to manufacturers for repairs are often
prohibitive for most people.
Due to these reasons, the scope of furniture reuse is currently limited mainly to a few high-end products.
The majority of low-end furniture discarded from workplaces lacks demand in the second-hand furniture
market due to issues related to materials, quality, and design.
2、Only through a circular economy can product
reuse be achieved.
In the proposals announced by the UK government, there is a plan to further expand the responsibility
of producers to bear the costs of recycling, reuse, and recycling. It encourages considering the reduction
of costs associated with product reuse and repair starting from the product design phase. This proposal
includes bulky products such as furniture and mattresses.
However, the aforementioned proposal has sparked debates. The Furniture Industry Research Association
in the UK has issued a statement, warning that achieving the goals of the extended producer responsibility
plan for furniture by the end of 2025 would be challenging.
France has taken a slightly different approach with its extended producer responsibility plan. It requires
producers to pay an "ecological fee" that must be clearly stated when selling materials. Companies can
offset this fee by obtaining ecological credits through financial subsidies. Encouragingly, more companies
are investing in the refurbishment and remodeling industry for old products, and the carpet industry is
leading the way.
However, the reality is that only a small portion of recycled products are truly reused, while the majority
end up in landfills or incineration, leading to increased carbon emissions and diminishing the purpose of
Therefore, when discussing the recycling and reuse of office furniture, we need to consider the following
questions: How can products be made reusable at a low cost? How can the costs of logistics and storage
be reduced? Can manufacturers effectively utilize old products as materials for producing "new products"?
Sustainability comes with a cost, so how can we mitigate this cost? Is a global carbon tax part of the
solution? The latter is also a challenge faced by end-users.
It can be said that the aspiration for zero carbon emissions is admirable, but it is only through a circular
economy that significant waste reduction can be achieved and this goal can be realized.
#office environment design #paradigm shift #sustainability #recycling #reuse #office furniture #low-carbon
environmental protection #circular economy.