Office Furniture Donation & Disposal Guide
How and where to donate office furniture & equipment
If you have perfectly good office furniture to dispose of, consider donating, recycling or reselling it using our definitive guide here. This resource outlines how businesses can implement sustainable practices to dispose of unwanted furniture and equipment whilst helping do their bit to protect the environment.
Why should I recycle or donate my unwanted office furniture?
The UK produces 434 million tonnes of waste each year, of which 90% is recoverable and could be recycled, reused or used for compost purposes (greenfurniture.org.uk). The masses of waste from landfill sites releases a huge proportion of the UK’s methane emissions which has momentous implications in terms of global warming.
There are different ways to go about it depending on your budget, timeframe and company but this guide provides some useful links to get you started.
What the law says
First of all, make sure you’re aware of the legal implications of managing your commercial waste (which does include office furniture) responsibly. The key things UK law requires you to do are:
- Keep waste to a minimum by doing everything you reasonably can to prevent, reuse, recycle or recover waste (in that order) – get help to do this
- Sort and store waste safely and securely
- Complete a waste transfer note for each load of waste that leaves your premises
- Check if your waste carrier is registered to dispose of waste
- Do not allow the waste carrier to dispose of your waste illegally (and report them to Crimestoppers if they do)
You have extra responsibilities if you’re dealing with hazardous waste. This could include things you usually find in an office, like:
- Chemicals, eg print toner
- Equipment containing ozone depleting substances, eg fridges
Read more about managing office waste here:
- Managing Business and Commercial Waste (Gov.uk):
- Commercial Waste and Recycling Legislation (Bournemouth Borough Council):
How to responsibly dispose of office furniture
There are many furniture recycling solutions including donations, reuse, resale, restoration and disposal by recycling, but ideally you want your waste disposal strategy to be in line with your company goals. Are you hoping for a financial return from your unwanted assets? Do you have sustainability targets? Or is your business committed to corporate social responsibility?
1. How and where to donate / Re-use your old office furniture
Companies like Dorset Reclaim operate a furniture re-use project which offers a free collection service to local residents and businesses who are willing to donate good quality items to households on low incomes. If you want to help out others in need whilst reducing the amount of furniture going to landfill sites, visit dorsetreclaim.org.uk.
Yorkshire based Green Furniture Aid (greenfurniture.org.uk) formed to make better use of surplus and unwanted office furniture by diverting it from landfill sites and donating to good causes, both in the UK and abroad including schools in Kenya. To date, the diversion has saved over 1700 tonnes of waste being dumped in landfill sites.
If you want to donate your old items to charity, there are many charitable organisations which offer a free collection service for donations of old furniture and electrical items such as the British Heart Foundation (www.bhf.org.uk). If you unsure of where to donate to check out www.charitychoice.co.uk.
Another option for is to list your items on websites like freecycle.org. This non-profit organisation also aims to divert reusable goods from landfills and is all about giving away your unwanted stuff to local people who want it.
2. How to sell unwanted office furniture
If you want to resell you might want to first consider asking your employees if they would like to purchase your old furniture at a discount. This is a good option if you want immediate cash in hand and demonstrates goodwill. You could also sell on to companies as second hand goods or on websites like gumtree.com.
If you don’t want to sell them yourself and assuming your unwanted furniture is still in good condition, there are lots of companies that will purchase used office equipment and then re-sell for you. For example, wantdontwant.com promise to help you achieve the best possible prices for your used goods with a ‘no sale, no fee’ guarantee and an environmentally sound service.
Here are some other companies who will buy and resell your used furniture:
- https://www.pickfords.co.uk/environmental- disposal-office-furniture
3. How to recycle office furniture
If reusing or reselling isn’t feasible, recycling is the next best option. It can be difficult to break down your furniture into its component parts (wood, metal, plastic, etc) but there are many office furniture disposal services that will do this for you. Here are just some:
4. How to safely dispose of unwanted office electronics
Disposing of old office electronics can be very damaging to the environment but it can be hard to know which components and materials are recyclable and which may be hazardous.
One of the main laws dealing with computer recycling is the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment recycling (WEEE). This particular government directive aims to reduce the quantity of waste from electrical and electronic items and increase its re-use, recovery and recycling, meanwhile regulating the disposal of hazardous substances found in many electrical products such as lead, hexavalent chromium and mercury.
For more information on the WEEE regulations visit hse.gov.uk/waste/waste-electrical.htm.
Return unwanted office electronics to its manufacturer:
Some computer manufacturers such as Dell and HP offer recycling and asset recovery services in order to recycle securely and responsibly, so it is worth checking to see if your computer manufacturer accepts returned equipment. This way the electricals are ‘de-manufactured’ and sorted into recyclable materials ready to be recycled for new products. They then dispose of the non-reusable elements in an environmentally safe way.
Electronic disposal & recycling companies:
If, however, your electrical manufacturers do not offer this service, there are a large number of disposal specialists who are equipped to recycle computer equipment. Here are just a few:
One thing to make note of here is the safety of sensitive data on hard drives. The 1998 Data Protection Act states that businesses with sensitive data must keep it the relevant data backed up and stored and are encouraged to implement a secure data strategy with good encryption and security technology. Some of the disposal and recycling companies provide this service but if you are unsure seek professional guidance on how to correctly and safely dispose of data.
The following companies offer data erasure services:
An all-in-one solution
If you do not have the time or simply want to take all the stress out of disposing and recycling all of your unwanted items, you can contact a specialist office clearance company. They will take care of the entire process from writing a full inventory to removing and transporting your furniture to disposing of all the components properly and safely.