Remanufacturing is the rebuilding of a product to the specifications of the original manufactured product using a combination of reused, repaired and new parts. It requires the repair or replacement of worn out or obsolete components and modules[1].

Many photocopiers are remanufactured, including those by Ricoh, Fuji, Xerox and Kyocera. So the copier in your office may have previously been used by a number of other companies. Caterpillar remanufactures engines used by the UK armed forces; their reliability is so good that they are deployed in life-or-death conflict situations.

Office furniture is a logical candidate for remanufacturing because it has very long life components like steel bases which are expensive to make from virgin resources. These can be reused and the softer parts around them replaced. The result, depending on the level of quality required, can be indistinguishable from new and carry the same warranty – but cost a lot less. Details of the cost savings are presented in How to Halve Your Office Furniture Bill.

Figure 1: Remanufactured office furniture sitting on used carpet tiles

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Remanufactured office furniture is more sustainable than virgin products – see What is the Most Sustainable Office Furniture for a detailed discussion of the environmental benefits, which include addressing the 300 tonnes of office furniture going to landfill in the UK every working day[2]. And because remanufacturing is done locally and is more labour- and skill- intensive than making virgin product, it also creates local employment.

Companies can remanufacture their existing furniture or source additional pieces that have had an earlier life elsewhere. For office refits and moves, many companies remanufacture some existing furniture, source some remanufactured pieces and combine these with new items to benefit from the latest trends like soft-furnished collaborative space (which can be so new that used furniture is not yet available).

The result is a lower cost, more sustainable office.

Because remanufactured office furniture is little-known, suppliers have showrooms demonstrating the quality of their products.

More tips and advice on office design are available at the Rype Office Blog, dedicated to helping companies to create beautiful, budget-friendly and sustainable offices.



Dr Greg Lavery is a Director of Rype Office, which designs offices and supplies sustainable furniture, including remanufactured office furniture.


[1] Wikipedia definition

[2] WRAP estimate for 2012