Posted by Heidi Schwartz
Through the end of July 2013, IRN (The Recycling Network) has provided more than 4.3 million pounds of surplus furniture and equipment to charities in the United State and overseas. The nearly 60,000 pieces of surplus filled 328 tractor trailers, which were sent to charities in 11 countries in Asia and the Americas, and to seven U.S. states.
IRN works with schools, hospitals, and businesses throughout the U.S. to match excess furniture and other assets with nonprofit relief and development agencies. IRN’s mission is to assure that usable surplus is reused where it is desperately needed, rather than being discarded.
In 2013 through July, IRN has managed reuse projects for 85 different organizations in 20 states from Massachusetts to California. These include colleges and universities such as Rutgers, Georgetown, and the University of Notre Dame, corporations including Chevron, Siemens, and John Hancock, large healthcare organizations, and much smaller organizations like Deerfield Academy, The Fenn School, and local K-12 schools.
For all of these organizations, reuse provides a combination of social, environmental, and financial benefits. “This is a program with nothing but winners,” says Dr. Brenda Moeder, University of Central Missouri. “The University saves money, diverting material from landfill is a benefit to the environment, and most important, our furniture is provided where it will be used and appreciated for years to come.”
Dana Draper, IRN’s head of operations, has this to say about the program’s success. “More and more organizations are coming to understand that reuse isn’t just a feel-good thing,” he says. “Every organization has surplus that needs to disappear. Reuse turns surplus from a social and environmental liability into an asset and costs less than throwing it away. When that realization clicks, we get the call.”