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The real impact of consumer goods sits below the surface. For the average consumer product, only 10% of the raw materials used are found in the final product. That means the chair you are sitting on actually generated a further 90% of waste during primary and secondary manufacture. More alarmingly, the amount of waste generated for a single laptop computer is close to 4000 times its weight. Furthermore for evey £1 you spend on say furniture the item has embodied carbon of about 0.6Kg.
“This is why it is important to redistribute and repair “stuff”.” Says XXXX XXXX who is on a mission to make it easier for organisatons to find homes for their stuff, than it is to skip it.
As a result of the economic climate as well as sustainability reasons, organisations are learning it is important to get maximum value out of resources. Buying stuff that has more longevity, repairing stuff which can still be used- and making sure we don’t throw away anything that can be used elsewhere by redistributing the resource to someone who can use it.
“Surplus and redundant furniture and equipment is massive obvious problem in large organisations. It is a challenge to find new owners for reusable resources quickly and easily- so stuff ends up in the skip. Another problem, which isn’t so obvious, is that staff often purchase equipment that someone else in the organisation already has spare- and wants to dispose of.”
The purchasing and waste disposal cost saving opportunity is obvious. A new breed of services are cropping up which could help organisations do more with less.
This shows [name of organisation] is serious about the circular economy . People are struggling to see real life circular economy examples but we are doing it and delivering benefits on the ground.
Customers are guaranteed a return in savings of at least five times the value of their investment in the first year. However, Founder and Chief Reuse Officer at Warp It, Daniel O’Connor, says he has experienced cases where organisations benefited from a saving equivalent to 200 times the contract value. He explained that although reuse is often seen as a waste management solution, the benefits to procurement often prove far more significant. “Our service in NHS Tayside, for example, resulted in savings of £72,000 over two years, far outstripping the investment of £4400.”
The scheme works in a similar way to web-based trading sites such as ebay. Participants agree to abide by terms and conditions, which protect the organisation from any legal concerns around misuse; members list unwanted items, which can then be viewed and claimed by others. When assets are added to the system, they are first advertised to internal staff. Those unclaimed after a period of time may be sent to storage or can be advertised to preferred partners on the system.
Warp It is unique in offering an automatic means for internal and external redistribution of goods which also tracks assets to report on waste, procurement, carbon savings and donations to charities.
XXXX says, “The challenge and pressure of finding a new owner for an unwanted resource is usually time or space. It takes ages to find someone in your company or community who wants your old desk, office furniture, lab equipment etc and space is an issue because most organisations don’t have any.”
The other side of the coin is that it is often more convenient to just buy new rather than go to the effort of finding someone with a spare chair or inkjet cartridge in your building, for example.
XXXX said “We have all witnessed first hand perfectly fine equipment, furniture or items in skips. People and businesses skip resources because they cannot find new owners easily, safely and legally.”
XXXX has worked for X years in the waste sector and has observed the many problems inherent in redistributing or disposing of surplus redundant furniture, equipment, consumables, fixtures and fittings etc.
“It is about finding an easy to use system, that finds new owners conveniently, facilitates the transfer legally and safely and keeps resources circulating for as long as possible.”
The system XXXX has developed is an off the shelf customisable online portal which allows staff to easily find surplus resources within the organisation, or even between organisations.
chief executive XX said: “As an environmentally-conscious organisation, we are always looking for innovative methods to enable us to reach our goals.”
“The ability to advertise unwanted furniture and cartridges giving us the opportunity to actually reduce procurement is the best overall feature. We have saved £1000s just by better internal sharing of surplus inkjet cartridges, stationery, furniture and even uniforms. We have saved £1000s for schools by redistributing lever arch files” said Hilary.
“The system joins up staff who would ever normally meet or contact each other to swap resources across silos. Although the system saves procurement spend it also helps with facilities management and internal sustainability.”
“The ability to better share resources with partners - allowing them to use our surplus resources, allows us to deliver community support priorities. We have a great deal of surplus furniture”
This is where schools and the third sector can benefit from surplus organisations in large organisations; Esther from Bridgend County Borough Council said “One school claimed 17 recycling bins from us!”
“People embrace this co operative collaboration behaviour to be more efficient but also much more connected with their colleagues within the organisation and with partner organisations. There is great potential to improve work between organisations” says XXXX.
The effectiveness of the system increases as more join, as there are more resources circulating and the system serves its community better. The co- operative principle is always the same- many hands make light work, and the greater the collective benefit to the community.
“In these times of improved efficiencies organisations must look more closely within the organisation and across the road at their neighbours and look to share resources both physical mental and social.” Said XXXX
Applying the principles of websites such as ebay and Freecycle, he designed an internal web-based system allowing users to donate and loan unwanted items inside their own organisation and beyond – saving money on new purchases, freeing up space, avoiding carbon emissions and diverting waste from landfill.
“I’ve spent the past 10 years working within organisations to reduce the amount of waste they send to landfill, saving them money and reducing their carbon emissions. I recognised there was a real market need for a product to help organisations recycle internally after realising people often throw away the exact same items of furniture and equipment that their colleagues are planning to buy.
“In these times of downsizing and re-organisation I also noticed a lot of kit being stored or going into skips that could be earning money or being used elsewhere.
“Warp-it is a sustainable procurement tool in so far as it makes it really easy for staff in organisations to find out who else in the organisation has surplus resources – meaning they don’t have to buy new, saving money and carbon. It is also a zero waste tool in that it makes it easy for staff with surplus items to find new homes either within the organisation or within partner organisations.”
Warp-it works on a subscription basis and allows organisations to 'friend' each other to develop sharing networks locally, nationally and internationally. It is useful with any unwanted resource but is particularly powerful with furniture, electrical items, fixtures and fittings and specialist items such as engineering, medical research and lab equipment.