New initiative to tackle commercial furniture waste

GECA awarded grant to tackle the issue of commercial office furniture going to landfill.

GECA, in collaboration with Edge Environment and the Global Product Stewardship Council, has been awarded a grant by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment to tackle the issue of commercial office furniture going to landfill.

The group will use the funding to design a product stewardship scheme that will help reduce the estimated 30,000 tonnes of furniture – much of it in perfectly good condition – that ends up in Australia’s waste stream each year.

Announcing the funding, Minister Trevor Evans said, “The Australian Government have recently provided more than $370,000 to Edge Environment and it partners to develop, in consultation with industry, a commercial furniture product stewardship scheme. When it comes to commercial furniture, we’re talking about a large amount of both textile and plastic waste across the lifecycle of these products from storage and delivery through to the actual components in the furniture. We’re excited to get behind this new scheme which focuses on waste streams that are priorities for our government.”

According to Paula Clasby, head of engagement and marketing at GECA, “All of GECA’s robust ecolabelling standards include product stewardship criteria, emphasising the value of decreasing contribution to landfill and increasing the reuse and recycling rate of the product at the end of its life. However, there have been many challenges when implementing best practice product stewardship here in Australia. Along with our licensees, we are thrilled at the opportunity this grant will bring to support a successful product stewardship scheme for commercial office furniture, working with all entities involved to create real impact. We’re proud to be part of this collaboration and solution to induce change.”

Commenting on the award, Edge CEO, Jonas Bengtsson, said “We’ve worked on the issue of fitout waste for many years, and despite great leaps forward in diverting materials such as carpet, glass and plasterboard, furniture has remained a stubbornly hard nut to crack. With this funding, we have the opportunity to create a solution that, with the support of property companies, contractors, and furniture companies alike, with the potential to improve environmental outcomes, drive economic benefits and create hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs.”

John Polhill, Vice President of the Global Product Stewardship Council and Principal of Circular-e solutions commented, “Responsible commercial furniture disposal is something that government and industry has been looking to achieve for a number of years now, but in essence has been limited and fragmented. Product stewardship provides a framework to identify and address market failures and a structure whereby organisations can work collaboratively and efficiently to design a common and targeted stewardship scheme that improves the reuse and recycling of furniture from commercial properties in Australia.”

The project is due to kick off in April and will run until 2023.

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