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What is the real carbon footprint of your office furniture?

23rd June 2022Blog Post

The steps involved in reducing the carbon footprint of an office far exceeds just consuming less power. In fact, the physical assets in your office space are likely to be a major contributor to its carbon footprint – including the office furniture.

From the extraction of raw materials to its transportation, office furniture can often contain a significant amount of carbon embodied in its manufacture. An understanding of the individual carbon emissions involved in different items of office furniture can help businesses identify areas where they can reduce their carbon footprint.

Carbon footprint of office chairs

There are two main types of chairs that are usually used in offices; chairs with metal height mechanisms and solid frame chairs for meeting rooms. According to FIRA, office chairs with height mechanisms produce a total of 72kg of CO2(e) in their lifetime. The manufacturing of metals and plastics account for 70% of their total carbon emissions due to their mechanical properties.

Choosing office chairs with a low embodied carbon comes down to designs that minimise the amount of embodied carbon-heavy materials used in manufacture and transportation.

Carbon footprint of storage items

There are various forms of office storage furniture that all have differing carbon footprints. Pedestals are a common form of office storage, with the most common units being desk high and steel designs. Desk high pedestals account for 28kg of CO2(e) in their production whereas steel pedestals produce 44kg. Wood based materials account for the majority of embodied CO2 in non-steel designs, whereas the manufacturing of metals and plastics are the main contributors in steel pedestals.

Other common forms of office storage furniture are tambours and cupboards. Tambours have an embodied carbon impact of 50kg of CO2 (e) whilst cupboards produce 31kg(e) on average.

Another important factor for sustainability is choosing storage furniture that responsibly sources these materials to reduce their environmental impact, such as regulated wood sources (FSC approved) that do not contribute to deforestation.

Desks and Tables

Standard workstation desks can range from 35-63kg of total embodied CO2(e) depending on the size, whereas full meeting tables that seat 6 people can have a total footprint of 228kg (e). Similarly to office storage, both of these types of desk have a majority of their carbon footprint coming from manufacturing and transportation of metals, plastics and wood.

An interesting factor in the carbon footprint of office desks and tables is that their transportation is a larger contributor than it is for other types of office furniture, whilst remaining a small proportion compared to the total embodied in the manufacture. This means that, alongside reducing the amount of virgin metals, plastics and wood in manufacturing, choosing office desks that are manufactured and retailed more locally, or made from existing or waste resources, can reduce a business’ carbon impact. Ultimately the desk with the lowest carbon is one that already exists, rather than one that is made to fulfil a new order, so reused or remanufactured furniture is always the lowest carbon option.

Reducing your office’s carbon footprint with Office Resale

At Office Resale, we work directly with leading brands to provide a range of sustainable and low-carbon office furniture. Helping businesses become more sustainable is our priority, and lowering the carbon footprint of offices through the furniture they use is how we achieve that. We also provide refurbishment services to extend the lifespan of office furniture and further minimise the environmental impact of offices.

Interested in reducing the carbon footprint of your office? Shop our range of eco-friendly office furniture or contact us to find out how we can refurbish your office’s existing assets to any requirement.

Explore our high quality used equipment from top brands at a fraction of the cost of buying new.

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