Go Green Office Solutions: Interview with director of environmentally friendly furniture company
As urgent calls to make changes that will save our planet’s wildlife and natural resources are hitting headlines, Move Commercial speaks to the leader of a North West firm helping workplaces contribute more positively to the environment.
Interview by Natasha Young
“At the minute there’s 600,000 tonnes of office furniture going to landfill every year in the UK,” says Shane Hanley, director of Liverpool-headquartered Go Green Office Solutions.
“To put that into perspective, I worked out that it’s seven artic loads of furniture going into landfill every day, and a lot of this stuff is beautiful gear that’s not even old – it doesn’t have to go to landfill.”
Since it was established in 2014, Hanley’s business has been clearing unwanted furniture from workplaces, upcycling and reselling the product that’s in tip top condition.
It’s since expanded to provide what Hanley describes as a “full 360” service, ethically recycling furniture and adding new furniture products to its trade along with a design and fit-out offering. The company has recently rebranded from Go Green Office Furniture to a broader name which the man at the helm believes is more fitting to represent his current brand.
According to Hanley, who has followed in the footsteps of family members including his father and uncle to set up a used furniture-focused firm, the past year in particular has been a turning point in Go Green’s growth.
“We moved last year to Brookfield Drive [in Aintree], where we are now, and that’s when we started investing heavily in the company,” says Hanley, having initially operated the business on his own along with ad hoc assistance.
“At the minute there’s 600,000 tonnes of office furniture going to landfill every year in the UK.”
He explains that the investment has resulted in a boost in staff numbers as well as the increase in space for the now nationally operating firm, which has a 90,000 sq ft storage warehouse alongside its shop and office, as well as a showroom and warehouse in Dublin to further its reach.
“We’ve also got a recycling facility so that we’ll take all the cleared stuff and, if it’s no good for selling on again, we’ll recycle it. We try to do as much as we can in keeping it away from landfill.
“That’s the objective here, so we probably save 50 articulated loads of office furniture from going to landfill every year.”
Hanley says Go Green’s more comprehensive offering of services has enabled the business to “grow enormously in a short space of time,” although he admits branching out into selling new products has prompted questions.
“When we offer a service of new furniture to a client, people say ‘well how are you green if you’re selling new?’” explains Hanley.
“We were doing the used [furniture] and a lot of the time we might not have two or three items and I was losing the job because we couldn’t give them all the matching stuff, so we started matching it up with new products.
“If we’ve got 20 chairs and they need another two then we can order two in and that completes the order.”
Hanley believes there’s still plenty of work to be done on educating businesses around the impact their office furniture can have on the environment, and “changing the way people think” when they’re equipping workspaces.
“It’s making people aware that you can get a quality product for a used price which is great for the economy, great for the environment and great for their pocket,” he adds.
“People go into new offices and want new furniture but when we put used furniture in and it’s all clean and in place you can’t tell the difference.
“People have this view of [used] furniture that it’s worn or it’s dirty and it’s not.
“What we find is that a lot of designer product that we get in might look worn but we can reupholster it and it will outdo any new product that comes in.”
Hanley also suggests it’s a balance of reaching and raising awareness amongst companies who are looking to offload old furniture before it is disposed of in a less ethical way.
“A lot of people say ‘why didn’t I meet you last month when I dumped a load of furniture?’” he adds.
Aside from enlightening other firms and organisations, Go Green also strives to operate responsibly and donates used furniture to charities while also working to its own environmental policy with factors including sustainability and preventing pollution.
“For a lot of the new [furniture] jobs we do, like one we’re working on in Manchester, the [product] is all manufactured in Yorkshire so the carbon footprint is a truck travelling from Yorkshire to Manchester, as opposed to some firms importing from Europe or the Far East.”
“We probably save 50 articulated loads of office furniture from going to landfill every year.”
Beyond the business, Hanley is also working to play a part in solutions to tackle the broader issue of using fewer natural resources to make furniture in the future.
Sharing his expertise on recycling with Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), he’s been exploring ways to remove melamine from wood to uncover reusable material.
“If we can take the melamine off the top of a desk then the wood underneath is good wood, but how can we take it off and recover the wood again to make it new in a cost-effective way?” asks Hanley.
“I’ve been looking at maybe laser or steaming the top off so we’re in talks with [LJMU], but it’s going to be a slow, lengthy process.
“They’ve been inviting me to speak with different professors and parts of the team.”
Looking ahead, Hanley is optimistic about Go Green’s continued growth. He hopes to expand his sales, warehouse and truck driver teams by the end of the year with a further boost also proposed for the Dublin-based workforce
“In terms of growth and turnover, we’re on target this year and for next year we’d hope to possibly double the revenue again,” says Hanley, and he believes the company’s Liverpool location positions it well geographically for any future expansions.
“Where we’re based couldn’t be better anywhere else,” he adds. “We’re very close to the ferry port so we can service the whole of the UK and Ireland – we’re in Ireland every two weeks with a truck. We’re really playing in a massive market.”