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`Mary Celeste phenomenon` makes reusable furniture available

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Source: Materials Recycling Week

As the levels of unemployment rises a “Mary Celeste phenomenon” is taking place with abandoned reusable furniture being left in empty offices.

Business moving specialist Robinsons conducted a survey that found that businesses were failing to live up to their environmental policies when it came to moving premises and sending end-of-life furniture to landfill.

Robinsons managing director Anthony Robinson told MRW: “We are seeing a Mary Celeste phenomenon. We come into an office and there is no one to be seen anywhere and everyone has left the office. This especially happens to businesses that have been liquidated and everybody has been made redundant.

“Imagine everyone has been told tonight that they were all going to be redundant. They may take pens but we see all that is left, including PC’s, filing cabinets, telephone systems and photocopiers.”

Robinsons asked a cross section of public organisations across the UK how they deal with their surplus furniture. While 59% claimed to have a policy in place to ensure environmental disposal of furniture, more than 70% of those surveyed admitted sending furniture or office equipment to landfill.

Robinson said some people take the furniture themselves to make money from it, some people just dispose of it in landfill and some are responsible and donate it to charity or recycle it. But Robinson said most people fall into the former two categories.

His firm has recently launched a new service called Di-vert which is designed to minimise the environmental impact of organisations moving premises, ensuring unwanted office furniture and electrical equipment is either reused or recycled to divert it from landfill.  Robinson said that his firm can sell the second hand furniture from the company it takes it from and give it back the profits or valuable components can be removed from the furniture to be recycled. Or, thirdly it can be given to charity.

Robinson said: “It is amazing the amount of millions of pieces of furniture we throw away to landfill. It is hideous to think how much goes to landfill. I think we throw away half a million a year – it is a disgrace.”

He added that his firm was working closely with the Environment Agency and Natural England [Environmental organisation] to highlight the problem of furniture waste.

Robinson added that the problem was “quite big”. He said: “The Mary Celeste phenomenon is one that we shall see in the next 12 months but hopefully there will be a light at the end of the tunnel at the end of 2009.”

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