An office transformation is an exciting time, whether it’s a remodel, renovation, or an office move, it is always exciting to be “out with the old and in with the new”. That being said, an often-overlooked part of this transformation is deciding what to do with all of the old office furniture you are replacing. It can be a large project you may not have considered, or consider too late in the process. Should you sell it? Donate it? Recycle it? Or is it a combination of the three? There are a lot of moving pieces no matter what you decide to do. Here we outline some of the solutions for disposing of your old office furniture, and hopefully help make your office transformation even smoother.

First things first – we recommend you start by taking an inventory of the furniture you have, including the quantity, condition, and age of the pieces. This will give you a good starting point as you assess whether to sell, donate, or recycle your furniture.

Sell it

We work with a network of third party companies that purchase used office furniture and have learned that the success of the sale depends on what you are trying to sell, and when. For instance, if the secondary market is flooded with seating, and you are looking to sell 200 used office chairs, you will not be as successful than if you were trying to sell another product with higher demand. What happens to be in demand at any given time is unpredictable.

If you have desirable products, then often a third-party company will offer to remove the furniture for you as well as pay you a lump sum for the inventory. If you have products that are not as in demand, then sometimes the best-case scenario is a third party simply removing the items for you for free, but you may not get any additional payment for the inventory. Sometimes just having another company willing to spend the time and labor to remove the furniture is satisfactory. Regardless, it is best to research the secondary market before deciding if selling is the best way to go.

Make a charitable donation

Some companies know up front that they want to donate their furniture, but they do not know where to start or how to find a charity. One of the best courses of action is to work with a company such as IRN or The Furniture Trust. IRN provides surplus furnishings and equipment to charities and schools around the world, and The Furniture Trust donates your old office furnishings to your local community. Both companies provide a complete reuse solution for companies looking to make donations, and they manage the labor and logistics around the donation itself. Companies that go this route not only benefit from knowing that their products are helping those less fortunate, but they benefit from a tax write-off as well.

Dispose of it, avoiding landfills

If furniture is not suitable for reuse in its current condition, then the furniture can be separated into recyclable categories such as metals, plastics, and timber, and recycled at your local recycling center or by a third-party company. In addition, Steelcase can help through the company’s “Phase 2” program, which has a “zero landfill” goal. Steelcase consultants will evaluate a company’s used furniture and identify materials that can be reclaimed and recycled into new usable products and can also help in the selling and donation of furniture. They can also help you determine if some of your existing furniture can be refurbished so that you can reuse it, which can earn your company LEED® certification. Recycling is always a great option that conserves natural resources and aligns with your sustainability goals.

There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution, and sometimes a company finds that a combination of the above solutions makes the most sense for them. A portion of your office furniture may be suitable for resale while the rest may need to be donated or recycled. However, no matter how large your office transformation, there are several options to choose from for disposing of your used office furniture. If you choose to sell your furniture, donate it to a charitable organization, recycle what you can, or a combination of all three, you can find a solution to suit your project timeline, budget, and company goals.

workplace transformation guide