Reuse charity expands to offer wider service

A London reuse charity has moved to bigger premises in response to growing demand from local authorities and major retailers for a diversion route for bulky items.

West London based Furnish opened its new warehouse in Greenford today, quadrupling the floor space of its old premise in White City.

“This premises is going to enable bigger contracts to be taken on so that we can accommodate big pulses of furniture,” said project manager Mark Hardy.

“It is going to enable us to get involved in hotel clearances and halls of residence clearances, which is a huge area that is almost untapped.”

The new premises will also accept commercial office furniture and there are plans to receive take-back items from major retailers. Set up as a furniture reuse charity in the late 1990s, Furnish has historically collected unwanted furniture from the local community.

Working with the London Reuse Network, it carries out small repairs before selling on the items to residents in need, offering a discount system to enable vulnerable people to furnish their homes and also providing a fit-out-service for homeless people in temporary accommodation.

The charity offers volunteer work experience opportunities for the long-term unemployed and diverts waste from landfill, reducing local authority disposal costs.

In 2011, Furnish saved 80 tonnes of furniture from landfill, the equivalent of 720 tonnes of CO2 emissions. The charity also collects domestic appliances and currently sends the items to a waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) workshop in Wandsworth, run by Groundworks.

“One of the things we are planning to do with Groundworks is to set up a waste appliance, WEEE workshop in Greenford to provide training opportunities for local kids,” said Hardy.

The WEEE workshop would also enable the six local authorities that work with the West London Waste Authority to send unwanted WEEE items for refurbishment.

Hardy told edie that the centre will enable Furnish to run its work flow more effectively and allow members of the public to view items more easily.

“The items will either be dismantled if they are fit for reuse, sold as seen if fit for reuse or remanufactured,” he said.

“As part of the vision of the London Re-Use Network, reuse items are going to be made available on a website. Once they’ve come in, they will be photographed and uploaded.”

Part of the warehouse will be put aside for a workshop so that items can be remanufactured into new furniture. Furnish also plans to introduce a product tracking system.

“As every item comes in, it will be identified with a unique barcode so that we can identify it on the system. It’s more expensive but much more efficient,” said Hardy.

“We want that up and running from the day we start accepting items here and that means our tonnage figures will be much more accurate.”

Nick Warburton

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