Sustainable Furniture Procurement

SIP Interns: What are they up to?

Junior Enivronmental Science major, Jennifer Sloan, UK Purchasing Policies Intern, has created a project campaign to advocate for sustainable furniture purchases at UK. Furniture is one of the many commodities that is purchased through procurement at UK and plays a vital role in sustainability on campus. Jennifer’s main goal with UK Procurement is to find a way to reroute furniture purchasing staff to UK Surplus before purchasing fast furniture.

Fast furniture is mass produced​, made of poor-quality materials, and often has a short lifespan or doesn’t last long. Fast furniture is not typically recyclable and when broken, usually ends up in the landfill, adding to campus waste.​ Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reported that Americans throw out about 12 million tons of furniture, a statistic that has grown 450% since the 1960s​.

Surplus Property is responsible for accepting and accounting for all excess property within the University of Kentucky system. Their mission is to first reuse inventory by checking items back out to departments in need at no charge. Once all usable items have been made available to the University community for ten business days, Surplus then works to donate, sell by auction, or recycle remaining unneeded property.

The UK Surplus location in Lexington, is a warehouse facility that houses the University’s recycled furniture. These furniture items are open and free for purchasing to staff and faculty in all departments at UK. After 10 days, the items are put on GovDeals, for anyone to bid and purchase at a discounted price.

Jennifer’s project aids in the pursuit to make campus zero-waste, which is one of UK’s sustainability goals. Actually, it’s one of our five guiding principles;

  1. Make the pursuit of sustainability goals an integral part of the UK student experience
  2. Reinforce the University’s commitment to our people
  3. Decarbonize Campus Operations 
  4. Become a Zero-Waste Campus
  5. Model Environmental Excellence

Jennifer hopes that in implementing the rerouting guide to the purchasing of furniture from Surplus, the project will contribute to sustainability priority action 4.4.1 “Include a step in the procurement process to require verification that UK Surplus was considered before ordering certain items by 2025.”

“No one ever thinks about furniture contributing to campus sustainability. Seeing the behind-the-scenes action of what goes into purchasing and sourcing furniture for campus buildings has greatly changed my perspective.”

Jennifer Sloan, SIP Intern

We are excited to support Jennifer in her project and to see the positive impact UK Procurement and Purchasing Polices has on campus!

Katherine Johnson

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