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Innovation Short | Public Health Wales and Orangebox save 134 tonnes of C02

In 2016 Public Health Wales (PHW) relocated to a new large open plan office in Cardiff Bay incorporating the transfer of around 500 staff. PHW wanted to create a unique workplace environment designed to encourage a collaborative, social and learning focused work place which embedded sustainability as a core principal.

Public Health Wales has embraced the three pillars of sustainability – environmental, economic and social sustainability and so this was incorporated in to the brief produced for furnishing the building. In order to achieve the retrofit PHW took a new and innovative approach to procuring office equipment, furnishings and flooring using as much reused and remanufactured equipment and products as possible.

As an organisation dedicated to improving public health and well-being, PHW felt that this should be central to activities, including procurement of goods and services, and the refit was identified as an opportunity to demonstrate this approach.

They already had a large number of quality furniture and fittings in their existing offices across Wales and it was felt that these items, with some cleaning, refurbishment and re-design, could be repurposed for use at the new office space in Cardiff Bay instead of being sent to landfill, and could be combined with other new or re-used items in a cohesive and functional style appropriate for the new office space.

It was also important that plans took in to account the sustainability challenges for the public sector in Wales including the Wellbeing of Future Generation Act 2015.

So PHW wanted to ensure the use of existing stock, including those which may need re-designed along with sourcing additional refurbished and pre-owned items. Sourcing of new items would only occur where absolutely necessary preferably using recycled content and eco design principles.

PHW took an innovative approach to finding the right supplier. A supplier day was arranged to brief potential suppliers who were given the opportunity to meet representatives from PHW and gain an understanding of the requirements. This new approach meant moving away from traditional procurement scoring where cost is usually given the greatest weighting to one where sustainability had the greater weighting taking up 70% of the scoring requirements.

The tender was awarded to a consortia made up of three companies, Rype, Greenstream and one of our premium members – Orangebox as their bid demonstrated the most sustainable approach.

The Outcome

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The bulk of the furniture for the new office was either reused/re-manufactured from existing furniture or sourced from elsewhere. Many of these items had they not been reused would have been destined for landfill. In the refit 1,143 individual items were reused, these items were recovered and cleaned, in addition a further 1,270 pieces were re-manufactured (where parts are repaired, reconditioned, or replaced). Desk tops were repaired and chairs and soft furnishings being recovered with new fabrics. Around 2,563 items were used for the office refit overall with 45% of the items being re-used, 49% being re-made and only 6% of the items were brand new but encompassed sustainability credentials.

Our premium member Orangebox provided approximately 550 remanufactured office chairs for the project as part of their Remade programme. Orangebox Remade involves chairs that are near or past their warranty being returned to Orangebox and then collected by a local social enterprise, who remanufactures the chairs to as good as new condition. Each remanufactured chair saves 32kg of CO2, a 60% reduction in total compared to the new chair. 98% of parts are recyclable; components removed are either kept for reuse or returned to Orangebox’s locally based suppliers for reprocessing into new parts.

A mix of new and reused carpet tiles were used to carpet the offices floor areas. The flooring was designed to be accessible to all users with a number of the walkways designed with bespoke colour contrasts meaning that a greater percentage of carpet tiles needed to be sourced from new stock to meet the design needs. Although the ratio of recycled to new was lower than first anticipated the use of reused tiles, supplied and fitted by Greenstream, made a significant contribution to the project as it aligned closely  with PHW’s overarching aims and objectives of extended community benefits.

In total the project saved around 134 tonnes of C02 – the equivalent to traveling around 400,000 miles by car, or taking 41 cars of the road for an entire year.

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Orangebox – is one of the UK’s largest office furniture manufacturers. Their in-house design team are committed to ensuring their growth comes from products and services that are as environmentally smart as they are commercially successful. This has included the design of the first office chair in Europe to be ‘Cradle to Cradle’ accredited, the set-up of an in-house recycling (take back) service and more recently, an Innovate UK supported project looking at adapting the business toward Circular Economy thinking. Looking forward their aim is to encourage their organisation, customers, distributors & suppliers to adopt a more holistic approach to product life-cycles and reduced environmental impacts.