Resirculation in office furniture – a growing market

In a world where sustainability and circular economy are becoming increasingly important, the office furniture industry faces an exciting future. Post-Covid, we are seeing fewer permanent office workplaces overall, but at the same time, more initiatives for more innovative and attractive office solutions. Increasing environmental awareness among consumers, a shift towards new business models such as subscription services, public regulations, and greater cost pressures make the circular economy interesting for office furniture.

Each year, 10 million tons of furniture are discarded in the EU, and only 10 percent is recycled (Sintef). Reusing furniture can reduce EU carbon emissions by 3.5-5.7 million tons annually. This is 3-5 times the total emissions of Oslo municipality (FIVH). Therefore, furniture is among the priority areas in the EU’s new circular economy strategy. Narrowing down to office furniture, the European market is estimated to reach EUR 40 billion by 2024 ((Research & Markets).

In Norway, several innovative companies are striving to contribute to increased circular economy within the furniture industry. In this article, we will get to know one of these actors better.

A Story of Sustainability and Innovation

The origin to this case is Glomma Industrier. The company builds on 60 years of experience in the development and production of furniture and fittings, which has given the company solid knowledge of maintaining used furniture and more. This knowledge is also used to contribute to the further development of furniture. At the factory, designers receive assistance in developing new products and redesigning to meet today’s requirements and tastes.

At its peak, the factory produced 200 office chairs a day. Today, these machines form the basis for the reuse and redesign of furniture and fittings. This makes Glomma Industrier the largest industrial reupholstery factory in Norway, with the capacity to support many regional players and drive growth and development.

It became clear that collaboration and control over technology were key to success. This led to the formation of the Reinventar group, consisting of Sirk-Tek AS, Glomma Industrier AS, and RE:inventor AS. Together, they are stronger in meeting the challenges of the circular economy and sustainability.

EU is Leading the Way

The EU leads with strict requirements for circularity, traceability, and reuse/redesign of furniture. This also affects Norwegian players, who must adapt to these standards to remain competitive.

Strong Local Network in Recycling

Reinventar is established in Fredrikstad, which with its 85,000 inhabitants, has the potential to become a competence center for the circular economy. The city has internationally leading research and consultancy environments in LCA, EPD, sustainability, and circular economy. There are also several companies working with high-scale recycling. The municipality has also put recycling on the map, and national research institutions and funding sources prioritize recycling initiatives.

Read more about the public sector’s focus on the recycling of furniture here

There is a Huge Market Potential for Recycled Office Furniture

The founding of RE:inventar is based on the national market opportunities: Norway has an annual market for new furniture sales of around NOK 4-6 billion. The demands from the municipal, public, and private sectors are increasing, with at least 30% environmental requirements in tenders from the municipal sector. This means that the circular economy related to reuse and redesign can account for NOK 1-1.5 billion. Currently, this industry accounts for perhaps NOK 500 million a year, indicating a significant growth potential. We will see strong growth in the circular economy related to furniture and fittings. We must also expect extensive requirements for those who will carry this out in accordance with standards, operational capacity, environmental documentation, and traceability.

A Furniture Upholsterer Must Work Systematically and Precisely. You should be concerned with form, colors, function, design, and have good material knowledge.

There are Many Applications for Recycled Office Furniture

All furniture and fittings associated with reuse or redesign undergo upgrades to achieve the same or new functionality, with a guarantee. There are no limitations on what can be done, as long as needs, competence, quality, and capacity are documented. Today, all sectors within B2B, B2C, municipal, and public sectors are involved. The simplest sector is B2C due to laws and regulations that are not yet adapted to the Green Shift.

Significant Environmental and Cost Effects

Through reuse and redesign, up to 65% cost savings can be achieved on some furniture and significant CO2 reductions. For projects that include storage, logistics, mediation, reuse, redesign, environmental documentation, delivery, and installation, the savings are normally between 30-40%. Environmental benefits from reuse and redesign can be confirmed through partners such as In addition, the companies contribute to social entrepreneurship and local growth, says Lars Erik Sikkeland, CEO at RE:inventar .

Would you like to know more about the opportunities and challenges in the use of recycled office furniture? Then you can read this article.