On the ground: Green-Works

Robert Shepherd

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As landfill sites become increasingly full, Green-Works is providing organisations with a fresh solution that looks beyond the municipal tip for the disposal of unwanted office furniture.

A not-for-profit social enterprise, Green-Works was set up in 2000 to tackle the growing problem of redundant office equipment being dumped in landfill sites. The organisation aims to prevent perfectly serviceable office furniture going to landfill by redistributing it to charities and start-up businesses.

Colin Crooks, chief executive and founder of Green-Works, explains: "In order to tackle the enormity of this environmental problem, we have put together a one-stop collection service that takes away the headache of arranging for large-scale pick-ups, storage facilities and redistribution."

Organisations - mostly private companies but also government departments - pay an annual membership fee to Green-Works in return for the collection of their unwanted office furniture. This fee is used for the cost of removing and transporting items to Green-Works' warehouses for redistribution.

To date, Green-Works has removed redundant furniture from organisations including BP, the Natural History Museum, and The Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Some 3,000 tonnes of unwanted office furniture from HSBC would have taken up space equivalent to that of 178 double-decker buses, had it gone to landfill.

"Some of the furniture looks like it has hardly been used," says Blair Thomson, the regional manager of Green-Works' south west branch. "It is all very welcome to community groups struggling to make a little go a long way."

While it also sells furniture to commercial organisations, the charity offers a 20 per cent discount to third sector clients, schools and business start-ups.

Green-Works now redistributes 6,000 tonnes of furniture each year, and never sends any of the items it receives to landfill. Those items that cannot be redistributed are instead recycled and sent out to art and drama projects for props.

Aside from its environmental agenda, Green-Works also takes a progressive stance on social issues. The organisation's warehouses are run in partnership with charities such as Stride and First Fruit, and provide jobs and training for the disabled, homeless and unemployed.

- See www.green-works.co.uk.

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