Why we took a sustainable approach

July 19, 2019

Why we took a sustainable approach

Having been in the contract furniture market sector for over 45 years, JPA have seen furniture trends come and go and huge changes in the way that people work and learn, mainly due to technological innovations in the digital age.

Research has also played a key part into how people work, what helps them become effective and what it takes to create environments conducive to creativity, engagement and productivity.

The average wage in central London for an office based worker is £33,000* per annum, with the cost of floor-space £15,000 per annum per individual meaning that over a ten year period, each member of staff will, on average cost £500,000 to keep in post – a staggering amount. Therefore, it’s reasonable for employers to invest in better quality surroundings where staff enjoy coming to work and are more productive and contribute more fully to the long-term success of the business.

As businesses are working hard to update working environments, accommodate flexible working, smart technologies, different work-style preferences, support active working and well-being, it’s not surprising that a lot of office and educational furniture is ending up in landfill – with 23 million office workers alone in the UK businesses spending over £9m per year on landfill, that’s a big issue, financially and environmentally.

We began to see lots of unloved, unwanted office furniture in skips all over London and the south east and decided to see if we could do something about it! We started off by launching a range or furniture repair, refresh, reconfiguration and re-upholstery services, all aimed at helping extend the life our of our clients’ existing furniture and of course saving them money at the same time.

This was followed by a furniture recycling service, where we collect our clients’ unwanted furniture on delivery of new items, made possible as we have our own fleet, and can simply back-fill vehicles and use the same miles to bring furniture back to our warehouse for recycling. In a very short space of time however, we realised that because contract furniture is made to last, and can stay in use for 20, 30, even 40 years, much of the furniture we were collecting although unloved and possibly a bit sad for itself, was still in essence fully functional.

In 2015 we piloted the ‘100’ Challenge as part of Sustainable St Albans week – basically a chair amnesty for local businesses, where JPA collected unwanted chairs free of charge, to test the idea that homes for re-sue could be found in our local community. We aimed to collect 100 unwanted office chairs and re-home as many as possible in a single week – we collected 91 chairs from 12 companies, re-homed 32 locally to 6 local organisations at zero cost to all recipients and sent none to landfill. This was all the encouragement we needed in determining there was a marked for community furniture re-homing, as we had evidence which clearly illustrated financial, environmental and social value for all participants. PROJECT DODO was officially born – a range of services which maintain, re-use and recycle our clients’ furniture, preventing it from becoming EXTINCT!

Since then, we have recycled over 19,420 unwanted furniture items for our clients, saving over 437 tonnes of furniture landfill. We’ve also successfully re-homed over 3650 unwanted furniture items in over 65 local organisations saving them over £301,057 in new furniture spend – which even we think is amazing! Along the way we have met some incredible individuals and we have become far more integrated into our local community in a really meaningful way, which has been incredibly rewarding and humbling.

In expanding our sustainable approach, we ensure that all our products are sourced from reputable and ethical sources, and where possible from renewable materials. All our products are recyclable at end of life and made so that parts can be replaced as required along the way. As a company, we’ve developed a reputable, trusted supply chain and therefore, confidently underwrite the warranties of all products supplied for our clients peace of mind.

Because we tend to work locally to our client base, our operation is also incredibly efficient, with low fleet miles, low emissions and a high percentage of reverse logistics back to our warehouse. In 2018 we managed to reduce fleet mileage by a further 24,348 miles, some 17% over 2017, a massive achievement.

Our entire operation is geared towards keeping our clients’ furniture in use for longer, maximising existing furniture resources and when the need arise to replace, dealing responsibly and effectively with the old through re-use or recycling. We are able to demonstrate measurable financial, environmental and social impact and proud of it.

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JPA Workspaces is a trading division of JPA Furniture Ltd. 
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JPA Workspaces
Sphere Industrial Estate,
Campfield Rd, St Albans 

01727 840 800

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