Recycling means business for Recycled Office Environments
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 21.6 million pounds of discarded furniture went to landfills in 2010. Jeff Budelier, president of Recycled Office Environments, says this is one of the reasons the Stevens Point-based company was started in 1990: to answer the question of what to do with all the “junk” office furniture that businesses are ready to send to landfills when they upgrade, remodel, or move locations.
The company’s answer is to make this used furniture feel new again. Recycled Office Environments creates remanufactured office furniture products from its extensive warehouse inventory of used cubicle systems, desks, office chairs and more. Customers enjoy significant cost savings and a level of customization not often associated with used products. The used furniture is stripped down to its frame, and clients can work with a designer to select their choices of fabric, paint, laminates and final configuration.
“The experience of buying used furniture has now become as exciting and personal as buying new furniture,” says Budelier. “The client can have their needs professionally satisfied with remanufactured used furniture at a fraction of the cost of new.”
Recycled Office Environments also offers used furniture that needs only cleaning and touching up, which is quickly growing in popularity because of even more cost savings, Budelier says. A variety of services the company offers allow Recycled Office Environments to further extend the life cycle of all its products – cleaning, reupholstering and reconfiguration of furniture are just a few examples.
“This combination of activities allows us to challenge the reasons businesses consider replacing their furniture,” Budelier says. “Repurposing a client’s own furniture not only results in the lowest capital expenditure, it also facilitates the best opportunity for environmental stewardship.”
Heather McCombs, executive director of the Wisconsin Green Building Alliance, which had its Milwaukee headquarters furnished by Recycled Office Environments, says the company’s sustainability efforts have the added value of working at a local level.
“There are other companies that can provide recycled office furniture, but after getting it from around the U.S. and shipping it in from far away,” McCombs said. “Recycled Office Environments is pulling from local sources around the Midwest. They are really the only company that I’m aware of in Wisconsin that’s doing what they’re doing.”
Recycled Office Environments has also made environmental stewardship part of the company’s culture, Budelier says. The company uses waterbased glues to adhere laminates, and the fabric they remove from office partitions is used to package furniture products. Company warehouses retrofitted with energy efficient fixtures and reuse of packaging materials are a few other examples.
Answering the question of what to do with all that used furniture has made a difference: Recycled Office Environments has kept 123,000 tons of office furniture out of landfills. McCombs added that the growing green building industry needs to start focusing more on this to round out the sustainability of the built environment.
“It’s really the missing link, in my mind – recycled office furniture.”