The University of Kent has reached a million-pound milestone in savings by using the Warp It reuse service.
Now recognised as the top performing university using the reuse system, the organisation joined Warp It five years ago. Unwanted and old furniture and fixtures are redistributed within the university, to staff for personal use, or donated to charities and local schools.
This has led to an estimated saving of £1million based on the cost of reusing items, including desks, chairs, coffee tables, filing cabinets, whiteboards, sofas, and magazine racks, along with the time and money saved on procuring new furniture.
Above: a variety of stock ready for reuse at Kent University.
These significant savings have been achieved through efficient use of the Warp It distribution system and maximising every opportunity presented. The University’s Warp it team is led by Peter Hayes, Interior Services & Signage Administrator, who has developed the service over the past five years.
“We started using Warp It in 2016 as we knew there was a lot of good quality, used furniture around university departments and we wanted to make sure that these items could have a second, third or even fourth home depending on their condition, rather than being thrown away.
"Over the years, the collection, storage and donation of pre-used furniture to departments across the university and externally was done on an informal and ad-hoc basis. We were able to streamline and formalise this by introducing Warp It, which allows us to document the types of items being reused.”
Every organisation using the Warp It system is given their own private portal where staff can trade items. The portal can be customised with company logos and listed items are uploaded along with a description, an estimated weight, a deadline, and other details.
Peter said: “We make sure that we fully use all functions available when listing items on the system. For example, we always ensure that the photographs match the goods so that claimants know exactly what they are getting.”
It is Peter’s proactive approach that has shaped the success of using the Warp It system.
“We are really proactive and will approach the local schools when we have 30 chairs we no longer want, rather than waiting for them to have a need and come to us. I will email individual members who’ve made wish list requests to offer them alternative options.
“I was at my doctors recently and his desk was wobbling all over the place so 10 minutes later I was chatting to the practice manager and showing her Warp It on my phone!”
Peter has also made suggestions and requests for various features on the system, “We worked with the team at Warp It to introduce a simple labelling system for listed items,” he explained, “and every suggestion we have made has been investigated by Warp It. We have built up a great relationship with them, they are really responsive and helpful and action our recommendations wherever possible.”
This collaborative approach has meant that the system runs smoothly on a day-to-day basis and has been successful integrated within departments, including Estates, Signage, Internal Services and Customer Services, ensuring that reuse is actioned wherever possible across the university.
“Working closely with other departments means that we are always aware of what is available for reuse so that rooms and office spaces right across the university can be equipped with furniture sourced internally. It has also been an excellent resource for staff working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic as they have been able to claim all sorts of office furniture for personal use.”
Warp It also calculates savings for the university, which includes costs, a mixture of item cost and administration cost from purchasing, waste diverted from landfill, carbon saved, cars off the road, and trees equivalent.
“It runs like clockwork and acts as a really efficient hub for all of our reuse targets. A big advantage is that we can calculate the cost savings and the improved environmental impact of reuse, which is a huge support to the university’s sustainability and waste reduction targets.”