Bureau’s green reuse solutions aim to end office furniture dumping

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“It’s the world’s secret sustainability shame,” declare Andy and Jennifer Russell, founders of Edinburgh-based Bureau. Their “cradle to cradle” solutions provide furniture, fixtures and equipment packages that take the strain off businesses by piecing together what’s needed, from the start of a transformation to what happens at the exit in ways that leave minimal carbon impact.

Aside from the commercial imperative as waste disposal costs rise,  customers and investors are increasingly looking to firms to demonstrate environmental responsibility while companies realise that strengthens their credibility.

“The market is now aligning with us,” say the Russells.

Bureau, which also has branches in Glasgow, London and US tech hub Seattle, is on course to turnover £10 million plus next year, delivering projects for UK-based companies around the world from Shenzhen and Miami to Singapore and Barcelona. 

Those clients include flight comparison site Skyscanner and asset manage abrdn for whom renovation of its HQ resulted in massive carbon savings, 6,000 computers wiped and recycled and unwanted furniture donated to charity.

Normally project planning takes three months ahead of execution.

“We work with local suppliers and focus on those that can demonstrate their ambition to contribute to the circular economy,” explains Andy who has seen the cost of goods rise three times in a year and points out:

“We can procure, refurbish or rehome all within our ecosystem of businesses. We donate to schools, charities and not-for-profit enterprises. 

“A sustainable approach to fixtures, fittings and equipment has a tangible impact greater than more tokenistic ones of off-setting and planting trees.

“We’ve created a proprietary carbon calculator that enables clients to measure the environmental impact of their procurement activity.”

Bureau’s Workspace division is its most successful, providing clients with desirable workplaces that in turn help them attract the best talent.

Andy adds: “We think about products from a different perspective, how they can benefit clients and sustainability rather than focusing solely on price. We can use more than 50 per cent of used products, creatively reimagined.

“We work with parties across the UK helping clients choose sustainable furniture in the first place and what the remanufacturing possibilities are. That might be resizing a desk or taking the foam removed from seats and sending it to carpet underlay makers. Plastic casters can be chipped then melted down, extruded and resold as nylon.” 

Project sizes range from £10,000 to £1.5million and the company employs 40 staff and is currently recruiting more. That’s a far cry from when it began at the start of lockdown 2020 when the Russells bought back a company they had started and then sold a few years previously.

Delighted to be entrepreneurs again today’s challenges centre on education and getting clients up to speed on what sustainable procurement can achieve and its long-term value.

Another is the UK’s lack of craft businesses Bureau can work with. “Upholsterers and French polishers can make a massive difference renewing items, we need more of them,” says Andy.

After support from Promethean Investments, Now Bureau is raising funds for next year as it develops a new centre of excellence, a data and supply chain management platform bringing together its services, sourcing and a marketplace so clients can chart what they need and next steps progress.

“We hold true to our mission,” declare Andy and Jennifer, “enabling clients to make better decisions that’s our prime focus.”

  • Bureau-group.com

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