Sustainable Stripout – a company with solutions and not profit in mind

Sustainable Stripout

Old office chair lay the pile

It’s no secret that perfectly functional office chairs and desks are often landfilled at the end of commercial office leases.

In The Fifth Estate’s ebook series, The Tenants and Landlords Guide to Happiness we learnt of solid timber board tables and expensive Aeron chairs thrown into the waste truck. Mainly the issue is logistics. The demolition team is ordered, the team is paid on an hourly basis, there are major safety issues to deal with – imagine loose and live electric cables and partly dismantled furniture – and topping it off is the old tenant needing to return the space to its pre-occupation condition before being legally released of their obligation.

It’s a nightmare made up of competing interests. Not the least of which is the need to find a new owner for the goods and getting them to pick up at exactly the right time. Or find expensive storage solutions instead.

While this mind-boggling waste problem has not gone unnoticed, few companies have managed to find alternatives to landfill. According to Sustainable Stripout founder Bernie Fernandez only 5 per cent of end-of-lease strip out waste is currently reused or recycled.

Bernie says the inaction on stripout waste is not so hard to understand. It comes down to well worn practices and habits. It’s hard for companies to change ingrained processes, he says, especially when an end-of-lease is already disrupting day-to-day activities.

It doesn’t help that many businesses still perceive landfill as the cheapest option for used furniture. However, in most cases, rehoming items saves money on landfill fees.

That’s the Sustainable Stripout guarantee: avoid landfill fees – which can be upwards of $30 a square metre – and save with the zero cost, zero risk service.

The not-for-profit is also dedicated to helping its clients meet corporate social responsibility targets, with 100 per cent of profits from the resale of materials donated to charity. Bernie says his sustainable defit model is perfect for property managers and corporates looking to take meaningful action on their sustainability commitments.

While for-profit sustainable defit models also stop needless waste and save businesses money, Sustainable Stripout ratchets up the positive social and environmental impact with its donations-based model.

How it works

Because the aim of the game is to increase donations, the company doesn’t have the assets to move, store and dismantle office fitouts. It instead relies on a hierarchy of rehoming options to move items directly to a new owner.

Sustainable Stripout founder Bernie Fernandez

Sustainable Stripout founder Bernie Fernandez

The preferred outcome is reselling items at half price. Part of Sustainable Stripout’s promise is to keep prices low and target in-need customers such as disadvantaged schools or charity organisations.

Because there’s big demand for second hand office furniture, the not-for-profit is able to rehome a lot of stock this way.

“Someone’s trash is usually someone else’s treasure. They love it.”

Leftover items from these sales end up on Sustainable Stripout’s online marketplace, giving every last desk lamp the chance for a second life.

Furniture that isn’t sold is donated to one of the many charities willing to take used furniture for free.

If all else fails, the furniture is processed by Green Collect, a resource recovery organisation that employs disadvantaged people.

Where the profits go

Profits from resales go directly to a charity that the stripout customer prefers or towards Sustainable Stripout’s chosen cause – building a new youth centre.

It’s a cause close to Bernie’s heart as someone who spent a lot of time at a youth centre growing up. In fact, the idea for Sustainable Stripout – a social impact arm of his construction business Agero – grew from his company’s informal furniture donations to a youth centre.

The future is responsible resource recovery

The bottom line is that no matter what the outcome, Sustainable Stripout customers can rest assured that their used furniture is doing more good than harm.

“We want to shepherd in a new generation of resource recovery.”

Going forward, Bernie says his team is working on a fully automated system that can calculate exactly how much material is saved from landfill, which will be useful for corporate social responsibility reporting.

Bernie is able to offer the free service as a social impact arm of his construction business, Agero, a Melbourne-based business providing commercial office fitouts, construction and refurbishments.

He says Sustainable Stripout has the potential to grow nation-wide. He’s currently seeking support from high profile corporate partnerships to anchor the project and allow it to grow.

Sustainable Stripouts