Efficient end-of-life for office furnishings

As at other companies, at Nokia ergonomic improvements and facility renovations have often resulted in substantial amounts of obsolete office furniture.

For instance in Oulu, Finland, both new and used furniture used to be stored in a rented warehouse. The warehouse filled up quickly, and every couple of years the used furniture was sold to Nokia personnel. "Storage was expensive and the staff sales were laborious and took a lot of time," tells Esko Nurmi, a Nokia employee whose responsibilities in Oulu include the recycling of office furnishings.

In 1999, it was decided that it would be more efficient to outsource the supplying and storage of office furniture. "The decision was right," says Esko. "When transferring ownership of our furniture to the supplier, we collected a sum equal to three months' rent of the warehouse. Now the supplier fetches unneeded furniture from Nokia, stores it in their own warehouse, and brings it back when needed. The supplier also takes care of selling our used furniture."

Some 80-90% of furniture is reused. In the future, the supplier will also recycle unusable pieces. Metal can be recovered and wooden parts cut up and used as raw material or energy.

Spreading the Success

The same concept is being built in other parts of Finland as well. In order to implement the concept, suppliers have to be found in all the places where Nokia has units in Finland, since intermediate storage for furniture must be locally available.

Esko considers recycling of office furnishing beneficial both for environmentally and economically. "We do not have to pay warehouse rent anymore, and we get money out of used furniture depending on its age and condition. We do not use our own resources for storage, and internal management of furniture recycling has become easier. And that means saving time - a very valuable resource."