What's the right way to dispose of old commercial furniture?

Are you looking to upgrade the furniture in your office, school or other public building? If so, one of the questions you might be trying to answer is ‘how do I dispose of the old furniture’? To find the answer to that question and more, keep reading and the Rosehill team will tell you the right way to dispose of your old contract furniture.

Why you should dispose of your old contract furniture responsibly

It’s important to bear in mind that when you run a business or public building, you have a series of obligations when it comes to the disposal of waste such as old furniture.

You can’t simply ‘chuck and forget’.

According to UK Government regulations, you are expected to do the following in relation to your waste:

  • Keep waste to a minimum by doing everything you can to prevent, reuse or recycle waste (we’ll give you some tips on how to do this with your furniture later).
  • Sort and store waste safely and securely.
  • Complete a waste transfer note for each load of waste that leaves your premises (you, and your waste disposal company, both have to complete this and keep a copy for two years in case you are asked to present it to a waste disposal officer).
  • Check that the waste disposal company that you are using is registered to dispose of waste.
  • Do not allow the company that is disposing of your waste to do so illegally.

As you can see, it’s important that you dispose of your old furniture in the right way. Get it wrong and you could find yourself facing legal proceedings. 

Environmental concerns

Today, it’s hard to get away from talk about the environment. Not only are individuals expected to do their bit for the environment, but businesses too.

If you’re going to be buying new furniture, then you’ll want to pay attention to how your old furniture is reused. Whether you sell it, recycle it or upcycle it, you should aim to do so in an environmentally friendly way. 

Consumers and service users alike are increasingly asking businesses and public services about their efforts to reduce their carbon footprint, so if you want to be able to answer those questions honestly, be sure to think about the environment when disposing of old furniture.

Begin with an audit of your old furniture

Before you start reaching for the Yellow Pages or jump on eBay, you should first carry out an audit of the furniture you’re looking to get rid of. 


Because, whether you intend to sell, recycle or donate your furniture, it’s highly likely that the recipients of the furniture will want to know what condition it’s in.

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Make a list of all the furniture you want to dispose of and make a note of any damage against each piece. From scuffs and tears to cracks and splinters, you’ll want to be able to quickly describe the condition of each bit of furniture to a potential customer or recipient.

Plus, if you find that certain pieces of furniture are still in serviceable condition, you may choose to keep them. After all, we all know how tight facilities budgets can be these days!

Ask your employees

Ask your employees if they know of any organisations that would be willing to take your old furniture off your hands.

You’d be surprised at the number of local connections that your employees potentially have. Whether it’s community centres, churches, or other public gathering places, you might find that you can get rid of furniture purely via word of mouth.

Donate your furniture to charity

If you’re not too concerned about seeing a financial return on your old furniture, then you can donate it to charity. 

Not only will you be doing a good deed, but you can also turn your donation into a good news story for your company. 

Here at Rosehill we ourselves regularly donate our old sample and ex-showroom furniture to charities such as Street Angels who help those in need.

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Bear in mind however, that not all charity shops will want, or be able, to handle a donation of furniture. Many occupy small retail units and are operated by volunteers after all. 

If you’re not too sure if there’s a suitable charity shop near you, the Charity Retail Association can help.

Their website has a ‘Find a Shop’ feature which allows you to search charity shops near you that are willing to accept furniture donations.

Contact a furniture bank

In much the same way that food banks provide food parcels to people in need, furniture banks provide furniture to people who desperately need it.

As their name suggests, the Reuse Network is a network of ‘reuse’ charities that are dedicated to reusing furniture and ensuring it gets to families and individuals in need.

To give you an idea of how effective the Reuse Network is, in 2020 1 in 5 UK households were helped with some form of furniture or related assistance.

Not only can the Reuse Network put you in contact with nearby reuse organisations, but they can sometimes help arrange collections of your old furniture.

Upcycle your old furniture

If you feel like there’s still some life left in your old contract furniture, then you could choose to ‘upcycle’ it.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the term, upcycling refers to the process of transforming old furniture (or other products for that matter), into new, revitalised pieces.

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Rosehill Metal Lockers

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For example, if you’re a facilities manager for a school, you may choose to re-upholster an old sofa or armchair from the staff room and put it in the sixth form block for the students to use. That’s a perfect example of upcycling in action.

Consider that contract furniture, such as that which you find in schools, offices and other public buildings, is designed to withstand far more wear and tear than domestic furniture – so upcycling offers the perfect way of extending the life of your furniture and helping to reduce your carbon footprint.

Tips for upcycling contract furniture

  • If a tabletop is looking worn and aged, simply replace it with a new one! Chances are, the rest of the table such as the frame and legs are probably still in good condition.
  • To revive upholstered chairs or seating, simply have them recovered in new fabric.
  • Consider changing how certain items of furniture are used to give them a new lease of life. For example, an old bookshelf doesn’t have to just be used to store books.
  • Think about recovering things like desk dividers with wallpaper or new material to completely transform their appearance.

Refurbish your old furniture

If you don’t fancy taking the DIY-approach of upcycling, but would still like to breathe some new life into your old furniture, why not have it refurbished on your behalf? 

There are a number of ways that you can refurbish your existing furniture:

  • Fit new seat or back pads on your chairs. Here at Rosehill we offer a replacement pad service. All we need is one of your current pads.
  • Buy new tabletops for your existing tables. If you’ve purchased a table from Rosehill, you can simply contact us for a replacement (we’ll need to know what model it is).
  • Have your upholstered furniture professional cleaned. If you have purchased your furniture from Rosehill we will be able to provide you with a cleaning guide. Just be sure to tell us exactly what item and model of furniture it is!
  • Obtain replacement components and parts. If some of your furniture is missing components such as feetor book boxes, these can generally be replaced.

To find out more about refurbishing your furniture, contact the Rosehill customer service team on: sales@rosehill.co.uk 

Contact your local authority

As a business, your waste will be treated differently from domestic waste. You have a duty of care to ensure that your waste is disposed of properly otherwise you could find yourself facing severe penalties, as we mentioned earlier.

So, if you find that your furniture is not in good enough condition to be donated, it’s a good idea to contact your local authority. They should be able to offer you advice on the proper way of disposing of your old furniture.

In many cases, local authorities offer their own waste collection service. Failing that, they should be able to advise you of suitably permitted local waste disposal providers who can deal with your old furniture on your behalf. 

Note, that in both cases you’ll almost certainly have to pay a fee.

If you’re unsure who your local authority is, you can use the finder tool on .gov.uk here.

Sell your old furniture

On the other hand, you may wish to try and get a financial return on your old contract furniture. 

In which case, you’ll want to sell it!

There are plenty of options available to you when it comes to advertising and selling old contract furniture. This includes everything from putting a note in your local newsagent’s window, through to placing ads on Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree, or eBay.

Whilst these platforms offer you a way of selling your old contract furniture, in most cases you’ll have to negotiate your selling price, delivery, collection and other associated logistics; all of which can be quite time consuming. 

Recycle your old furniture

What if your furniture could create a completely new item? Well, if you sell your old furniture to scrap merchants or joiners, it can!

Scrap merchants will usually be happy to take old metal-framed tables and chairs off your hands. Plus, given that many old pieces of contract furniture feature heavy frames and metalwork, there can be a lot of material that can be salvaged.

Likewise, if you have any furniture with a wooden frame or table top, many joiners will be happy to take it off your hands and repurpose the wood for something else. 

Hire a clearance service

If you’re in a hurry to get rid of your old office furniture, and you’re willing to pay, then there are a wealth of clearance companies who will be happy to collect and dispose of furniture on your behalf.

There are a wealth of such clearance companies including market-leaders such as Wayst, Clearabee and Hippo.  

When it’s time for new furniture, speak to Rosehill

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If you’re going to be getting rid of your old contract furniture, then you’re likely making room for new furniture.

Should you be reading this and you haven’t yet selected your replacement furniture, then please explore the huge range of contract furniture available from Rosehill.

We supply high-quality contract furniture to a huge range of different public buildings and services. From GP surgeries and schools, to offices, crematoriums and churches, we supply furniture that lasts.

Shop contract furniture at Rosehill now

For more contract furniture buying advice and information, read the Rosehill blog

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