A ground-breaking programme to convert low value waste cardboard into high value office furniture is being pioneered by Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with innovators FluteOffice.
The waste-to-value scheme enables the Trust to sell its cardboard waste at a premium and benefit from beautiful design furniture and office fittings at less than the cost of conventional budget furniture made from chipboard and steel. When it’s finished with, FluteOffice takes it back and re-uses all the raw materials to make new furniture. It is a remarkable example of closed loop procurement capable of saving many millions of pounds across the NHS.
Visitors to the ‘eco office’ at Kettering have been ‘astonished’ at the quality of the environment, according to waste and sustainability manager Robin Packman. “People absolutely love it,” he said. “Using waste to create interiors of a higher quality and at less cost has to be the way forward for the NHS.”
Trust chief executive David Sissling said where appropriate he would be looking to use furniture and flooring made from paper, cardboard, old fishing nets, plastic bottles and recycled plastic across the Trust. “We are very keen to increase our own recycling and eventually ‘close the loop’ by having our own recycled materials used to produce any new items of furniture or equipment that we need.”
The Trust plans to replace existing office furniture with the FluteOffice solution as the old furniture wears out, and then recycle it over and over again. Deputy director of estates Craig Catterick said the Flute solution surpassed all expectations and the first building to use the cardboard desks and the fishing net carpet tiles had already been commissioned.
FluteOffice, based on the Surrey/Sussex border, is leading the world in the design and manufacture of commercial grade furniture made from waste material. Last year it won the prestigious Innovation Award from the Furniture Industry Research Association and has recently picked up a £100,000 SMART Award from Innovate UK. Early adopter customers include BSkyB, Deloitte, M&S, Costa Coffee, and Mace.
Chief executive Rod Fountain said it was only a matter of time before all organisations realised the savings and sustainability gains to be made from adopting the waste-to-high-value model. “When you consider the colossal volume of old furniture held in storage by large organisations, the facilities management costs of moving and maintaining it, and the fact that new furniture is used for less than six years on average, you have the makings of a highly disruptive business,” he said. “In Britain we send two million desks and chairs to landfill every year and it has to stop.”