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Environmental Group Opts for a Non-Recycled Office; Earth Weeps

Fans of corporate irony, take note: Environment Canada, our northern neighbor’s leader in protecting the environment, has opted for a less-than-green office redesign. Our biggest beef with their new decorating scheme? Instead of recycling their existing work stations and furniture — or, ahem, buying used furniture — the department opted to purchase all-new equipment.

The weirdest part of the whole thing? The department spent over $141,000 storing the old gear for a year, before eventually deciding to go with new furniture.

Representatives of Advanced Business Interiors, an Ottawa-based company that specializes in recycling office furniture for “companies that want to reduce their environmental footprint,” are just as confused as we are. The company stored the furniture for Environment Canada, prior to the department’s decision to auction off the old equipment.

“I’ve been dealing with the product for 26 years,” said Bill Toutant, president of the company. “This is like the BMW of furniture. It will last forever and is not obsolete. So to me, it’s just a crying shame that it’s being thrown out and could wind up being used for scrap steel.”

Toutant went on to say, “If the federal government is saying that … they’re really not interested in recycling, I have to put together a new business plan here.”

Advanced Business Interiors gets about half its business from the federal government. They estimate that their plan to refurbish and recycle the existing furniture would have reduced spending on the project — estimated in the millions — by about 20 to 30 percent.

Toutant says his company will try to buy the equipment at auction in order to attempt to sell it to a new client, but that he fears that it will be bought for parts or dumped in a landfill instead.

Environment Minister Peter Kent, who is charged with developing a federal strategy for “greening the government’s operations,” declined to comment for an article for the National Post.

No word on whether the new furniture will at least be painted green.


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