The move towards a circular economy can be seen in SKA through the materials and waste sections that have been strengthened in the new Higher Education scheme; highlighted in this post with the inclusion of a Good Practice Measure (GPM) for a ‘campus-wide furniture storage logistics framework’.
The disposal of old furniture and procurement of new furniture in higher and further education institutions can represent an extremely inefficient use of material resources, and generates huge quantities of needless waste. It is working very much on a linear rather than circular approach. Much of this is due to the lack of an organised and joined-up process to ensure that existing resources are redistributed effectively, both within and between different sites and projects.
By setting up, or using an existing furniture framework, a higher education institution is able to share resources, avoid surplus and cut down on waste. Without a campus-wide framework there is a risk that each fit-out is undertaken in isolation, reducing the amount of furniture that can be stored, decanted, re-used or remodelled for a more holistic sustainable approach.
Using the waste hierarchy is a good starting point, identifying what furniture can be decanted and reused, by completing a furniture inventory (see good practice measure P15 Furniture inventory) or shared with other departments if a change of use is part of the fit-out.
There is also an element of remanufacture involved in these frameworks to breathe new life into tired furniture. In previous years, institutions had a ‘repairer of the fabric’ – employees whose role was to fix the furniture. This idea may sound out-dated now, but is actually a great way to reduce both waste and expenses.
It is important to say that all items must be stored correctly in order to avoid damage, allow them to be viewed by designers or staff selecting furniture items, and make them easily retrievable upon request. Some good tips are:
- Trolleys and re-usable packaging/protective wraps to be used to move items effectively from one location to another.
- Catalogue items thinking of issues/words which designers/specifiers will be using to find them.
- Think what will make it easier to desire the re-use of the items. Can an internal intranet be made available or a 3rd party’s catalogue?
- If there is no furniture framework in place then use it as a one-off service to try out the process before committing to a longer-term agreement.
Unwanted items should be:
- Offered to other charities or start-up hub companies setting up new premises.
- Sold at auction or through bid sales events.
- Donated to a non-profit organization or school.
- Redeemed for scrap value.
- Recycled, if item has no residual value.
This measure is Elina’s favourite GPM to date. What is your favourite GPM? Let us know using #SKAfavouriteGPM