Office environment design urgently needs "paradigm shift"



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

                  office furniture?

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

economy strategies.


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.