In Autumn 2021, Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA), The National Lottery Community Fund (TNLCF), Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) and Data Cymru relocated to a new shared workspace in Cardiff.
The workspace needed to reflect the diversity of their needs, support hybrid working and have a minimum carbon footprint.
The project was led by WCVA who turned to the Welsh Government Commercial Delivery (WGCD) Furniture Framework to meet their needs. The framework has remanufactured and reuse at its core. The framework has been designed to enable public sector buyers in Wales to choose a more sustainable approach to sourcing items of furniture. It also requires the suppliers to work with Welsh social enterprises ensuring that economic benefits will remain in Wales.
WCVA awarded the contract to supply and fit the office space to the Ministry of Furniture (MoF) who worked in partnership to deliver the project with Merthyr Tydfil Institute for the Blind (MTIB). Both MoF and MTIB are sheltered workshops, where at least 30% of the workforce have either a recognised disability or are disadvantaged. The MoF was directly appointed through a reserved lot meaning there was no need for any further procurement competition.
MoF was asked to fit a modern office space using existing furniture stock where possible and to maximise the use of socially accountable companies within their supply chain in line with the goals of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act (WFGA). This led to the involvement of MTIB and Greenstream Flooring CIC who supplied a mixture of new and re-used carpet tiles.
The initial phase of the project included a design brief, consultation with staff and basic space planning. This was followed by an audit of legacy furniture that could be repurposed and desk dismantle/clearance, the main project began.
To support the new hybrid ways of working, MoF created private ‘one-to-one’ pods, collaborative booths with teleconferencing facilities, and semi-enclosed group working or informal meeting spaces. Desks, lockers, and planters were made from previous furniture stock. New furniture ranges included chairs that are manufactured from recycled PET plastic bottles, and stools made from 100% plant-based hemp and resin.
This project demonstrates the social and sustainability benefits that can be achieved when public sector organisations practice ethical procurement with remanufacturing at the heart of the design:
- 187 furniture items saved from landfill/energy from waste
- 95 desks remanufactured
- 250 lockers and planters remanufactured
- 481 new pieces of furniture created
- 15,861kg of CO2e saved by avoiding new furniture purchases
Matthew Brown, Director of Operations, WCVA said:
“Moving office is never an easy process but we wanted to do it as a collaborative action as four organisations, working to demonstrate how we live the goals of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act (WFGA) whilst developing spaces for the post COVID office working environment. Being able to use the Welsh Government’s Commercial Delivery framework meant that we could simplify the process for ourselves and work with organisations that lived our values and understood our aims. The outcome has been a superbly well received office space that is fit for new working practices and is bring organisations together to work collaboratively.”
Faye Moore, Senior Category Manager, Commercial Procurement, Welsh Government said,
“When we let the furniture framework, supporting Welsh manufacturing and supported businesses operating in that sector was at the forefront of our thinking. We are delighted to see MOF and MTIB delivering sustainable items of furniture so effectively and being able to support even more of our citizens, especially those who are disadvantaged.”
The project showed how ethical procurement can contribute to policy goals of creating a prosperous and equal Wales while being sustainable and socially responsible and achieved value for money.
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