GM office furniture skips landfill, heads to nonprofits

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. is aiming to keep old office furniture and equipment out of Dumpsters and will donate $1 million worth of it to 100 Michigan-based organizations, many in Detroit.

The automaker, which is spending $1 billion to make over its Warren Tech Center campus, said Monday it has partnered with Herman Miller Inc., which runs a rePurpose Program with the help of environmental firm Green Standards. The partnership will send the furniture to nonprofits over the next two years. It includes nearly all furniture, equipment and supplies that GM doesn’t want anymore as it renovates the Tech Center, GM Renaissance Center headquarters and its Milford Proving Ground. In some cases, GM is reusing items in other company facilities.

GM so far said it has avoided sending 550 tons of office material to landfills. And it expects in total the program will help divert more than 2,000 tons. The Detroit-based company estimates the value of the tens of thousands of chairs, desks, tables and other items at about $1 million.

“We view waste as just a resource out of place,” said David Tulauskas, GM sustainability director, in a statement. “This reuse program enables us to reduce our environmental footprint while making a positive contribution to our community.”

Herman Miller said its research shows that as companies replace furniture, 75 percent dispose of it and two-thirds end up in landfills.

Some of the donated items have gone to the Habitat for Humanity Detroit ReStore and the Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan. Some furniture and equipment is slated to go to Cody High School in Detroit, a school the automaker has worked with over the past six years.

GM, Herman Miller and Green Standards employees will volunteer to transform three rooms at Cody to help boost learning for students. The trio of companies plan to make drywall repairs, paint, refinish floors, and in one room, will convert a space for parents to use filled with technology. The projects are expected to be completed in the spring.

“GM in many ways represents hope for this school,” said Johnathon Matthews, principal at Cody Academy of Public Leadership, in a GM video about the effort.

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