Navigating the Green Revolution: Sustainable Asset Management Trends and Circular Office Furniture in the Journey to Net Zero

Navigating the Green Revolution: Sustainable Asset Management Trends and Circular Office Furniture in the Journey to Net Zero

04 Mar 2024
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Sustainable furniture management is a vital part of addressing climate change, leveraging the potential of sustainability to affect operating profits by up to 60%. Despite some initial resistance to adopt such practices in Asia, the benefits of sustainable furniture management are becoming more and more recognised. Embracing circular practices in office furniture can reduce carbon footprints, minimise waste, give back to the community and contribute to a more sustainable future. Sustainable Office Solutions (SOS) has implemented over 150 projects in 2.5 years, demonstrating the potential for meaningful outcomes, cost savings, reduced energy consumption, and minimised environmental impacts.

“We don’t have time to sit on our hands as our planet burns. For young people, climate change is bigger than election or re-election. It’s life or death.” – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 

Climate change deserves to be a huge priority. According to research from the #WorldWildlifeFund, humans currently use the equivalent of 1.75 Earths to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste. This stark reality means organisations must make sustainability a key part of their strategy to secure long-term success.  

Sustainable furniture management is our way of strategically managing resources to maximise value, minimise environmental impact and benefit both current and future generations. Research shows that sustainability reduces costs and can affect operating profits by up to 60%. McKinsey & Company further substantiated by reporting that products with ESG-related claims boasted a 1.7 percentage-point advantage over products with them.   

Although the market is evolving rapidly, the concept of second-hand and preloved remains taboo and a blocker to achieving circularity in Asia. To challenge, change and re-educate on the misconceived status quo is no easy feat. However, the awareness of the benefits of sustainable furniture management is gradually becoming more recognised and appreciated. It goes beyond regulatory pressure or cost savings but rather reputation enhancement, supply chain stability, data management, and reporting.  

As we stand on the brink of a pivotal era in the fight against climate change, opportunities to enable greener choices in products and services at a reasonable price point that doesn’t force a trade-off between saving money and the planet are bound to keep rising. 

The circularity in office furniture gap 

To curb global warming, many nations and organisations have set “net zero” targets – but the majority have come under fire as insufficient, where actions don’t match up to the talk. While it is naturally difficult to navigate new, unchartered waters, however, walking the talk and demonstrating tangible, transparent results is undoubtedly a must. So how will organisations address these targets and meet climate goals? This will vary by industry, but SOS believes that circularity in office furniture is a crucial aspect, for its responsibility for around 10% of the building’s overall environmental impacts. 

By embracing circularity, organisations can stand to benefit by reducing their carbon footprint, and waste reduction, and contribute to a more sustainable future. Firstly, circular practices in office furniture minimise the need for new production and resource extraction by extending the lifespan of office furniture through refurbishment, repair, and reuse. Organisations can significantly reduce their carbon footprint associated with furniture production, minimise demand for these finite resources and prevent unnecessary waste generation. All in all, it reduces the overall environmental impact of office furniture and supports the goal of a zero-waste economy.  

Embracing circular practices in office furniture is not only environmentally responsible but also offers economic and social opportunities and benefits for businesses and society as a whole. Let us not lose focus on the bigger picture: driving positive impact must be everyone’s priorities, in this critical moment for our planet and human nature. 

From idea to actions 

In just 2.5 years, Sustainable Office Solutions have implemented over 150 projects – both locally and regionally, ranging from large multinationals to local SME’s and startups, below are some highlights: 

SOS have worked on 11 projects with a fellow SGBC member to sustainably clear out their office furniture across Singapore. As a strong supporter from the very beginning, our beliefs were closely aligned in that the environmental and social benefits of our programme made it an easy decision for them to move forward with. In 2023 alone, we helped the client sustainably manage 4,868 items, which resulted in 179,415 kgCO2e of emissions avoided and diverted 129.22 tonnes of materials from the incineration plant.  

Additionally, the charitable and community donation arm of the SOS business is a unique, meaningful focus for both businesses. It. For this particular project, 396 furniture items and / or appliances were redistributed, delivered and donated to 7 different charitable organisations in need. As recipients of ‘good-as-new’ furniture and equipment, these organisations effectively saved budget that could then be used and put to better use.    

Overall, these case studies demonstrate that Sustainable Office Solutions’ initiatives have delivered meaningful outcomes. Furthermore, the adoption of these sustainable practices has led to cost savings, reduced energy consumption, and minimized environmental impacts, aligning with the organisation’s commitment to sustainability and creating a positive impact on both the users and the wider community. 

*This article was first published on SG Green*