We Recycle Metal Filing Cabinets, Metal Desks,
Office furniture is a multi-billion dollar industry that represents enormous environmental impacts at almost every level of development and use; from the materials and resource extraction phase, through the manufacturing and processing stage and finally, product disposal. In a nutshell, the furniture industry contributes to:
- the depletion of forests when using certain woods to manufacture their furniture; particularly old growth and rain forests
- soil erosion, diminished biodiversity and loss of watersheds when wood harvesting is not conducted and managed under a certified sustainable process;
- water and air pollution through the release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) when more harmful painting and manufacturing processes are used;
- the wasteful use of valuable land mass by ignoring the fact that millions of tons of desks, chairs, cabinets, shelves, tables and more end up landfills at the end of their useful life instead of being reused, refurbished or recycled;
- the demise of the economic security of many communities impacted by one or more of the above factors as well as the general acceleration of climate change conditions.
Some of the other processes included in the making and use of office furniture that impact the environment and public health include the use of:
- flame retardants, particularly those containing polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) that are persistent in the environment and identified as a potential carcinogen;
- metal plating processes that use hexavalent chromium with a copper/nickel plated undercoat; hexavalent chromium and nickel dust are classified by the EPA as human carcinogens;
- adhesives with high VOCs or fiberboard and plywood components that use a urea-formaldehyde binding agent; formaldehyde is classified by the EPA as human carcinogen;
- paints and finishes with high VOC emissions; such products can continue to emit VOCs during their lifetime, significantly contributing to poor indoor air quality.
Purchasing office furniture produced using sustainable processes will serve to eliminate or reduce the various implications indicated above. Many of the vendors awarded under OFF20 for re-manufactured and other office furnishings incorporate the following sustainable principles and practices into their design and manufacturing processes.
Furnishings buyers are encouraged to support these sustainable efforts wherever possible.