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Why Sustainability Matters at Branch

Learn how we’re keeping sustainability at the forefront of our mission through our premium, recyclable materials and thoughtfully-designed furniture that stays out of landfills.



Two years ago, when my co-founders and I were still validating the idea that would turn into Branch, I remember rounding the corner on a street off Washington Square Park in New York City and coming across this scene:

After seeing that literal dumpster full of office chairs, I started to notice abandoned office chairs everywhere. More highlights:

When Greg, Verity and I decided to start a better office furniture company, we wanted to make furnishing a beautiful, ergonomic workspace accessible to a wider range of people and companies.

But as we learned more about the industry, we realized that addressing the environmental impact of office furniture was foundational to our vision as a business. Read on to learn more about why sustainability matters in the world of furniture, and how Branch is making a difference with our product line and service offering.

The Environmental Impact Of Office Furniture

Unlike the furniture our parents bought for their homes and offices, many modern furniture brands are designed to be disposable—a major advantage for a generation that demands flexibility and moves jobs and homes more than any before it.

But the convenience of expendable furniture comes at a significant cost: we’re throwing out more of it than ever before, with an environmental impact that is startlingly large yet largely invisible.

By some estimates, Americans throw away 110 million pieces of furniture every year, and according to the Environmental Protection Agency, furniture is the least likely item in a house to be recycled. In 2008, only one-tenth of 1% of discarded furniture ever made it to a recycling facility. In recent years, even brand-name household furniture companies have come under fire for their unsustainable production practices, leading giants like Ikea to implement new sustainability plans.

The result of this system is staggering environmental harm. American companies send almost 17 million pounds of office furniture to the dump annually, and according to a 2005 University of Michigan study, only 29% of that furniture can be recycled—better than household furniture, but still implying that upwards of two thirds of office furniture is incinerated or landfilled.

Re-use (or lack thereof) is also a huge problem: by most estimates, less than 10% of office furniture is used beyond the first office it inhabits.

Branch And The Environment

It’s no accident that we named ourselves Branch: it captures our commitment to companies, people and the environment. Here are some of the key principles we’re already putting into practice to reduce our environmental footprint:

  • No Fast Furniture: Our office furniture is modular and built to last, guaranteed by the industry-leading Branch Warranty. We work with contract-grade manufacturers to ensure our products can withstand the ins-and-outs of every workday. And if something ever breaks down the line, don’t throw it away: we’ll send you a replacement part or work with you to repair it.
  • Recycled (And Recyclable) Materials: We’ve committed to ensuring that all our office seating products are made from at least 60% recycled material, and at least 90% of the materials in our seating are recyclable after use. By 2022, we hope the same will be true of our desks.
  • Flexible Trade-In: 91% of office furniture ends up landfilled after a company is done with their lease. Our Branch Flex program lets our corporate clients request retrieval of their used Branch furniture free of charge, so we can give it another shot at life. They save time and money on disposal and get credit towards their next purchase, while we refurbish and resell at the same price as fast furniture.

 

These principles are already making a difference, and will make an even bigger difference as we grow and continue to do more. We’ve got a lot planned on our future roadmap, such as reducing waste in our packaging by promoting the use of post-consumer materials––a notably hard feat when it comes to large, fragile furniture items––but we’re excited about the challenges ahead. We’re committed to doing what’s right and enduring, not what’s easy and ephemeral, to ensure a brighter and healthier future for our products and our planet.

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