If your office wants to use recycled or remanufactured furniture, you may be on the way to satisfaction and better energy savings already. However, what does furniture made from reused content actually consist of on a material level? More importantly, what does the government expect such items to be composed of?
It’s easy enough to buy a chair from a reputable source of office furnishing, but knowing exactly what recovered furniture is made of gives managers more information to work with when calculating reuse benefits.

A section of the official website of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) features definitions of the materials used to construct recovered, refurbished or remanufactured office furniture pieces. Specifically, it lists “steel, aluminum, wood, agricultural fiber, and plastic” as furniture contents.

Drawing information from a Recovered Materials Advisory Notice, this source also lists the recommended recycled content ranges for different aspects of a furniture piece. Steel furniture structure is recommended to be between 25 and 30 percent recovered materials, while plastic furniture components could be as high as 95 percent.

This factors into what the agency calls its Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines. The fourth version of this was posted on 2004 on the site, and includes office furniture among other items like roofing materials and polyester carpet. Like bike racks, which could also be part of a building design, furniture is often made of recovered steel and according to the document, “designating these items promotes the recovery of steel.”

With such classifications applied to office furniture components, including desks, storage units and tables, it’s important for a company’s carbon emissions bottom line to select pieces that add up to an appropriate amount of recovered substances. Buying from a quality provider will let companies know that they are investing in high-quality items with a proper ratio of materials.