Online reuse hub could save universities £1m in 2017
British universities have been tasked with saving £1m this year by internally sharing resources through an online reuse scheme.
The Warp It reuse platform has already saved higher academic institutions £3m by allowing staff to post unwanted items such as furniture and office equipment online for others to claim. The ambitious goal for 2017 could see waste and CO2 fall by 100 tonnes and 200 tonnes respectively.
Warp It founder Daniel O’Connor believes universities have a “fantastic opportunity” to make a difference through reuse. “Maximising existing assets is paramount, and that is where we come in,” he said. “We extend the life of furniture and equipment by making it easy for staff to swap and trade surplus assets, either between departments or from one institution to another.
“With our system, savings are a given. We discovered early on that the greatest savings achieved through reuse impact on procurement rather than waste disposal, and we are so confident that we guarantee customers a return of at least five times their investment in one year.”
The system has worked successfully at a number of institutions, according to Warp It. The sector has collectively donated more than £500,000 to charity, and traded a similar value in equipment between universities. The University of Glasgow has reportedly saved £8,000 per month, while University College London has made total savings of £311,715.
University of Glasgow director of health, safety and wellbeing Selina Woolcott said: “Very little ended up in landfill; the vast majority was reused or gifted. It has been remarkably easy because people have been enthusiastic and positive, and we have also been able to demonstrate really good business advantages at savings through using the system.”
Sofa so good
The Warp It scheme has saved customers £8m in avoided procurement costs since it formed in 2011, and facilitated the donation of £1.2m in assets to charity. Its customers include 26 of the top 40 universities, with 15 of the 24 Russell Group universities already signed up.
Warp It founder O’Connor told edie last year that partnering with the NHS in Scotland has allowed his own company to expand close-loop practices to schools and councils across the UK.
With the UK the throwing away more than 300,000 tonnes of reusable furniture every year, it is crucial for furniture redistributing companies to explore innovative ways to develop the circular economy.
The Furniture Recycling Group (TFR) works to transform the textile recycling process at multi-sector organisations including universities. For instance, the company has partnered with the University of St Andrews in Scotland to help the University’s student body donate 2000 mattresses, duvets and pillows for recycling and re-use.