Rheaply has a client, a top tier global investment banking firm based in New York City, that wanted to find new homes for more than 1,600 high-quality leather office chairs that were no longer needed in the company’s New York offices. The chairs had been purchased in 2009, and over the years they had gotten a bit worn down, and some were in disrepair.
Fortunately, liquidating unused office furniture and circulating them outside the organization without resorting to landfill disposal is exactly the kind of challenge that Rheaply loves to tackle. We partnered with The Furniture X-Change (TFX), a company that helps decommission and remanufacture surplus office assets, to refurbish the investment firm’s chairs.
These office chairs are high-end Steelcase Amia leather chairs, the type of furniture often seen in corporate boardrooms; they might cost several hundred dollars each to purchase new. Getting chairs of this quality is not feasible for most nonprofit budgets. Rheaply’s Sustainability team used our platform to create a hyperlocal digital sharing network to match these unused chairs with community partners who were eager to upgrade their office seating.
Rheaply: Equipping nonprofit partners with refurbished office chairs
Rheaply worked with our investment firm client from July 2022-February 2023 to decommission their surplus office chairs. During that time, Rheaply was able to find new homes for the client’s unused chairs – a total of 1,616 office chairs were saved from landfill.
This unlocked a total value of $96,960 and diverted 68,680 pounds of material from the landfill.
Many of the chairs needed some repairs to fix their wear-and-tear; the Furniture X-Change received over 1,000 chairs and got involved with remanufacturing and refurbishing them.
On behalf of our client, Rheaply sourced and secured five community partners in the New York/New Jersey area to receive the donated chairs:
The Furniture X-Change: The Furniture X-Change (TFX) remanufactured and refurbished these donated chairs with craftsmanship and care, giving the items a second life. Customers of TFX will now have access to high-quality refurbished office furniture at a fraction of the cost of newly purchased materials.
Rutgers University: Rutgers University is the oldest, largest, and top-ranked public university within the New York/New Jersey metro area, and is also a Rheaply client. Our partners at Rutgers found good homes for 201 chairs for Rutgers faculty and staff, some of whom had been using chairs that were originally purchased in the 1970s.
Habitat for Humanity of South Central New Jersey: Habitat for Humanity received donated chairs that they can then reuse or sell to their community members, with proceeds supporting the nonprofit’s mission.
Materials for the Arts: Materials for the Arts (MFTA) is New York City’s largest creative reuse center. The donated chairs were repurposed and redistributed among New York City government agencies that needed new and upgraded office chairs, such as the NYC Department of Corrections, providing a more comfortable workspace for New York’s public servants.
Big Reuse: Big Reuse is a nonprofit retail store based in Brooklyn, NY that helps advance New York’s sustainable urban environment through circular economy programs. The donated chairs became new inventory for this store to sell to customers to earn revenues to support its nonprofit mission.
Bringing circularity to decommissioning: “Next life commissioning”
Large companies and enterprise organizations often have decommissioning projects, where surplus assets and unused workplace resources need to find a new purpose. With a traditional liquidation approach, many of these decommissioned assets might end up in a landfill. But Rheaply and our partners are bringing a new perspective and a circular economy approach to decommissioning.
Decommissions don’t have to come with a sense of finality or a feeling of loss. Instead, Rheaply believes in calling this process “Next Life Commissioning” – where every workplace resource, office chair, and other usable asset can find its next useful purpose. With circularity, decommissioning assets can become an exercise in community-wide positive sharing.
By leveraging Rheaply’s technology platform and robust network, Rheaply’s Sustainability team was able to find several local, community organizations that were eager to get these donated chairs and put them to new use. Any business using Rheaply to decommission surplus assets can connect with local collection programs and donation partners, and measure the impact of their decommission. Real-time analytics like cost savings, waste diversion, and embodied carbon avoidance are calculated and reported through Rheaply’s platform.
Decommissioning unused assets needs to become more frictionless, with enterprise leaders getting better visibility and clear next steps on where resources can go at the end of their life. Rheaply’s specialized inventory management technology and our professional sustainability consulting services can bring new light to a space – decommissioning surplus assets – that hasn’t had a lot of tech innovation.