What happens to your furniture?

A culture of ‘fast furniture’ has made cheap, insubstantial, and disposable products standard.

This has created infinite buying cycles in the furniture industry, with each cycle having a detrimental effect on our environment.

Carbon is produced throughout the entire process of furniture production. Starting with acquiring the materials, then to constructing, transporting, and finally disposing. This destructive cycle happens on repeat as trends come and go and people move around continually buying new and scrapping used furniture in perfect condition. Climate action organisation WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) estimates that 670,000 tonnes of furniture is being scraped each year in the UK. According to a 2018–19 report by the North London Waste Authority, 22 million pieces of furniture are disposed of in the UK each year, only counting small items.

There are numerous alternatives to sending waste to landfill. It can be broken down and recycled, donated to charity, repurposed or sold on. Good planning and design practice can also help to reduce the amount of furniture required in the first place.

The flat-pack revolution showed the general public that their furniture can be on a budget while having a high-end appearance. The ‘fast furniture’ culture is taking off to the point that it is making companies like IKEA revenues of 27.4 billion euros in 2022. This expectation affected the commercial sector too, when corporations became hungry for cheap furniture, and at the time the quality of the product or the level of sustainability wasn’t significant.

Despite the obvious reasons for buying sustainably, there is a persistent issue within the commercial sector that the price alone dictates what is purchased, and when it is in quantities of hundreds of thousands, the impact is huge. The low-end furniture that is required to produce the in-demand low-end prices is often constructed from unsustainable sources that are shipped from far abroad, this adds to the carbon footprint before the materials even arrive on UK soil. Therefore, companies are beginning to ask if cutting corners is worth it when it comes to procuring their commercial furniture.

The higher prices deter many leading to advantages of better quality being overlooked. For example, the future money saved when furniture is re-used. If products can be installed at  a second or third site, tonnes of carbon can be prevented from being  released into the atmosphere due to reusing higher-quality and more sustainable furniture. So maybe it’s time to look past the price tag.

Investing in higher-quality furniture that is built with more sustainability in mind has ample advantages, including durability, meaning you get more for the money, and a more ergonomic design that is adjustable. It also means furniture that can be effectively maintained with spare parts that are easily replaceable and furniture that can be taken apart to recycle when it comes to the end of its life. All of which drastically minimises the damage done to the planet. The products will also comply with UK commercial furniture testing standards, which aim to ensure safety, quality, and durability in various commercial settings.

What is TCi doing to tackle this issue?

TCi furniture WORKS prides its self on its commitment to being sustainable by providing a unique FF&E service that delivers and installs a vast range of specialist furniture and workplace equipment, nationwide. TCi has a network of operational storage facilities across the country to grade and store the furniture after removal, ready to be redeployed on upcoming sites. This is a streamlined, efficient process aided by TCi’s professional, experienced and friendly furniture team and CSCS qualified skilful installation teams.

TCi furniture WORKS furniture cycle management scheme

A standard cost exercise based on a 135 mile transport radius and a 12 week storage period, an approximate 70% cost reduction is shown when compared to a similar installation from new, and savings double for every site the furniture is used on. TCi holds sustainability credentials such as ISO 14001:2015 for the exceptional level of service provided, offering a wide range of furniture products with recycled content, including its own 100% recyclable, carbon-zero product the ECO360 cardboard desk.

According to WRAP, over 1.2 million office desks and 1.8 million chairs end up in landfill each year, however if companies begin choosing the kind of eco-conscious services and products that TCi offers, these numbers will fall drastically, saving the planet and saving money.

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