Sustainability is something we take very seriously here at Lazy Susan. It is a subject we have touched on in a number of articles but not one we’ve looked at in depth.
The question of can our garden furniture be recycled is extremely important but, for us, it goes much deeper than just recycling.
It is important to us as individuals and it is a key part of our business strategy.
We are trying to be proactive in our efforts to lower our carbon footprint and we are continuing to find new ways to support our charity partners with our Do Some Good initiative.
According to a recent article by Forbes that looked at why corporate strategies should be focused on sustainability, they stated:
“Sustainability is increasingly becoming a necessity for corporations due to changing perspectives around the world. It is becoming even more critical for companies to address the gap between knowing and doing by embracing sustainable business practices. Sustainability can be defined as providing for the present needs without compromising the needs of the future generations to meet theirs.”
As an environmentally and socially conscious business, we consider more than just our bottom line. We are looking closely at our impact on society and the environment.
Our mission is to become more sustainable in order to contribute to the health of the world within which we operate, thereby helping build an environment in which our business can continue to thrive.
Sustainability is about more than just climate change too, although, of course, that is the critical area where we all need to be taking drastic action.
For us, it goes much deeper. It is about working to address some of the world’s most pressing problems, and by Doing Some Good we are trying to do just that.
A sustainable business strategy can help us tackle issues such as the gender pay gap, our dependence on the Earth’s resources, human rights, fair working conditions, pollution, racism and gender inequality.
Hands up, our carbon footprint, like most businesses in the UK, needs to be lower. Change is always difficult. We work with several external partners, however, our commitment and acknowledgement that we need to be better is a big first step.
One of the questions we’re getting asked more and more in this regard is the sustainability and recyclability of our garden furniture and the packaging in which we ship our products.
Can cast aluminium be recycled?
Our collection is predominantly constructed from cast aluminium, which is 100% recyclable. It can be found not just in our garden furniture but in many other common items you’d find in your home and garden, from BBQ grills and cookware to car parts and components in household appliances.
When these items are no longer functional, the aluminium can be easily recycled. In fact, it is an infinitely recyclable material, and according to Aluminium For Future Generations:
“It takes up to 95% less energy to recycle it than to produce primary aluminium, which also limits emissions, including greenhouse gases. Today, about 75% of all aluminium produced in history, nearly a billion tons, is still in use."
According to a sustainability report by the American Aluminium Association, the recycling of aluminium uses about:
“5% of the energy required to create (brand new) aluminium from bauxite.”
While the North American Die Casting Association produced an environmental study that estimated that:
“Around three-quarters of the products manufactured with aluminium are sourced from recycled aluminium material.”
The high-grade cast aluminium used in our outdoor furniture could potentially be forged from recycled car wheels or old aeroplane wings. Although we must stress, this does not make it an inferior metal, far from it!
The quality and strength of our furniture are achieved during the casting process, whereby silicon is combined to create an alloy that has what we know in the trade as having "good casting characteristics".
In other words, a quality alloy we can form (cast) into the intricate designs featured across our furniture range. The end result is a material that is durable, robust, lightweight and corrosion-resistant.
If you would like to know more about the manufacturing process of our furniture collection, please have a read our How It’s Made page.
However, to answer the original question of can cast aluminium be recycled? Yes, it can, over and over again!
Can you recycle our garden furniture?
The same is true for our garden furniture range, once it comes to the end of its life, it can easily be recycled or reused, and there are a number of ways you can do it.
First off, it is worth stressing that our furniture is well made, it is classically styled, constructed from a material that is designed to sit outside, and that in itself creates an element of sustainability.
This is not "fast fashion" furniture, a design fad that could look dated in a few summers. It is designed to sit on our patios for several years plus with minimum maintenance and still look great.
However, If you do find it is looking a little shabby, then rather than buying new it could be stripped (the powder coat/painted finish removed) and resprayed or melted down and re-cast.
They take this garden furniture and it can be sold in their high street stores to raise funds, or in the case of B2C, redistributed to schools for use in the communal gardens, etc.
If, on the other hand, you’ve recently purchased a new garden furniture set from us, and you have an old set that is still in good condition, but just fancied a change, then that too can be recycled.
Many people will simply load that old set into the car, take it to the local waste recycling centre, and into the metal, wood or household waste skip it goes.
However, there are a number of other options, so we thought it would be nice to share some of our suggestions and provide details of the charities we like to support. Hopefully, we can introduce you to a new idea or maybe a charity you can help.
Why should you recycle your old garden furniture?
Before we go into the how and who, we thought a bit about why we should all be looking at recycling our old garden furniture would be beneficial.
According to Friends of the Earth:
“We need to drastically improve our recycling habits – both at home and in schools and workplaces. The UK's overall recycling rates for everyday waste are still below the EU target of 50%. The plastic bottle recycling rate in the UK is about 45%, which falls short of the 90+% rate in Germany and Sweden.”
It is important because we need to be:
- Conserving natural resources
- Protecting ecosystems and wildlife
- Reducing demand for raw materials
- Saving energy
- Cutting climate-changing carbon emissions
- Cheaper than waste collection and disposal
- Creating jobs
You can read more about how best to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, and the reasons why in their excellent article The 7 Benefits of Recycling.
According to Horticulture.co.uk:
"87% of UK households have a garden and the amount spent on our gardens per year is expected to reach over £6.5 billion by 2025."
Data gathering and analysis specialist, Statista estimate that the UK garden furniture industry alone is worth:
"The revenue in the UK outdoor furniture market will amount to around £1.5bn in 2023 and the market is expected to grow annually by 0.31%."
This all equates to us buying a lot of new garden furniture, and it leaves us asking the question, what are we doing with all that old garden furniture?
How to recycle your old garden furniture
Of course, the obvious option is the one we have already mentioned. You can send that old garden furniture to your local recycling centre or call up your local council and request their waste collection service.
They usually charge around £10/20 per item for collection, and it can be handy if you have a piece of garden furniture too big or heavy for the car.
All you do is book your slot and ensure the item is outside the front of your property for them to collect at the allocated time.
If you can take it yourself, then your local recycling centre is designed to be more than just the place you can dispose of it.
Most are divided into skips for each material, so the metal garden furniture will go in the metal, the wood in wood, etc, so you’re recycling rather than just throwing it away.
However, too often with this route, old furniture (especially resin or poly-rattan for example) still ends up in a landfill.
This isn’t always the best or only option, and since most of these items can be recycled or reused, there are some great alternatives to just getting rid of them.
What are the different ways you can recycle your old garden furniture?
There are now a number of different ‘greener’ ways you can recycle your old garden furniture.
These include recycling, of course, but there are alternatives such as up-cycling, repurposing, selling, or even donating them to a good cause as we regularly do.
We just want to maybe present a few options that you hadn't thought of, and recommend a few charities that we’ve supported ourselves with old new Lazy Susan stock.
If your garden furniture is constructed from wood or metal for example, then the popular option is just to take it to your local waste/recycling facility.
You’ll find further advice on this over at Recycle Now.
They are the national recycling campaign for England, supported and funded by the Government, managed by WRAP and used locally by over 90% of local authorities.
Their website contains information on what you can recycle and where, so it’s a great starting place.
Another option is to find your local independent recycling service, and you tend to find that many work in conjunction with your local council. They are usually independent and their efforts are working for the greater good of the local area or to support a particular charity.
A great article in the Independent looked at whether or not recycling is really worth our time, and as they say:
“We’re forever being told to reduce, reuse and recycle. But in the face of impending global climate catastrophe, is it all just an exercise in futility?”
The article highlights that the industry also has its fair share of rogues, and as we mentioned before, materials you think are being recycled still end up in landfill.
We would encourage all who read this post to please also read Katy Wheeler’s piece for the Independent.
Our advice, before you recycle, find out what they do with the specific material your garden furniture is made from, and how what they are doing benefits either your local community or a charity.
A quick phone call or web search is usually all it takes. If in doubt though, then GreenMatch.co.uk have also compiled a comprehensive list of the Top 50 Recycling Websites.
These are the people who are active in renewable resources and ethical recycling, so you’ll be sure they’re doing the right thing with that old garden furniture.
The team from Daelzicht in the Netherlands collecting a garden furniture donation from our warehouse last Christmas.
If that garden furniture still has life in it, then there are a number of alternatives to just recycling.
First up, why not donate it to a good cause? Donate it to charity or give it to someone who needs it? This is something we’ve done at Lazy Susan a number of times.
When we discontinue ranges, we often have stock in our warehouse, and we need to make space for new ones, so we have the option of discounting and selling it off, or we can donate it to a charity that can then sell to raise funds or make use of it.
Our donations to the British Heart Foundation & Business2Schools best highlight how we’ve done this.
Donating often comes down to a question of condition though. A charity can only resell or use themselves if it is a piece or set that people would want to buy.
However, there are also a number of websites, such as Freecycle for example, that allow you to list unwanted items that people can collect from you if they’re interested.
It is a global network of grassroots and entirely nonprofit people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their local area. Freecycle’s focus is on reusing items and keeping the good stuff out of landfill.
Again, it’s just a case of a little research/effort to find somebody who can make use of it. Just start by taking a few pictures and reaching out on social media, etc.
If you don’t want to donate then why not sell?
Even if the furniture isn’t in the best of condition, one person's trash is another person's treasure as they say.
Many of the team here at Lazy Susan are active eBay’ers and we are often surprised at not only what people will buy but what they’ll pay.
But all joking aside if you can sell it, why not? You'll make a little money and give the furniture a new home. Surely that has to be better than it ending up in landfill?
Even if the condition is poor, as long as you’re honest about the fact in your listing, and show detailed photos of any damage, then people will often purchase to refinish/repurpose themselves.
If on the other hand, you have the DIY skills, or even if you just fancy giving it a go, then why not up-cycle?
Make do and mend as they say. Take that tired-looking piece of garden furniture and give it a new lease of life.
Alternatively, take it to a professional furniture restoration company, and get them to do it for you. They can get most metal and timber items looking like new again, as long as there's no severe rust or rot.
With a little imagination, you can take that old faded garden bench and turn it into something new and different.
Be brave, experiment with colour, really make a statement, something you want to keep in your garden for the next decade.
This blog has a host of How-To Articles that feature ways you can restore and revive old garden furniture. From respraying garden chairs and tables to refinishing old seat cushions, we’ve covered it all.
Start by choosing quality furniture that won’t need recycling.
Our industry has been guilty of being a little fad-driven. It is something we’ve tried our best to avoid here at Lazy Susan.
It is something you hear a lot in the clothing industry with the phrase ‘fast fashion’ but the same applies to the garden furniture industry (and the wider furniture industry) too.
Much of the furniture we see, and it’s the large high street/DIY stores that are often the most guilty of this, is only designed for a summer or two. It is on-trend and looks great for a short period.
However, it just isn’t designed to stand up to the elements. They want you to replace in a few years, and before you know it they’re enticing you to buy a new rattan sofa set at 30% off in the latest style or colour.
Our advice, go for quality pieces of garden furniture that will last you 10 years or longer and that are easy to clean and maintain. It will save you money in the long run and is better for the environment.
Where can you recycle your old garden furniture?
If you have old garden furniture you’re looking to replace and get rid of, then our advice is to get in touch with one of the following:
We are working in partnership with The British Heart Foundation
Here at Lazy Susan, we have worked closely with the British Heart Foundation for a number of years now, and they help us to give our pre-loved items a new home.
By making a garden furniture donation to them, this amazing charity can help fund life-saving research into heart diseases, strokes, vascular dementia and more.
You can easily book a collection via the Lazy Susan website:
- STEP 1
Call 0808 250 0228 or visit bhf.org.uk/lazysusan to book your FREE collection.
- STEP 2
Wait for an update - they'll check the details and let you know when they are available to collect.
- STEP 3
The BHF team will then pick up your furniture quickly and efficiently.
So far, Lazy Susan customers have helped raise over £90,000 for the BHF. However, we don't want to stop here so arrange a Free Collection Today.
Make sure it's clean and check for any damage!
Your furniture will be going into a new garden, so they need it to be in the best condition - please make sure your furniture is free of any dirt and debris and that there are no chips or scratches.
For quality and safety reasons, the British Heart Foundation can only collect pre-loved garden furniture that is in a useable condition e.g. not broken/damaged.
Please don’t be disappointed if they are unable to accept items for safety and quality reasons.
The British Heart Foundation is a registered charity in England and Wales (225971) and in Scotland (SC039426).
The Reuse Network website is another great option, as they are an umbrella organisation for various charities all over the UK that accept furniture donations to help people in crisis.
Emmaus is another organisation with branches across the UK that accepts donated furniture to help homeless people. They will sell items or upcycle them if they need a bit of TLC.
Recycle Your Furniture is based in Byker, Newcastle Upon Tyne and they’re a great example of a local recycling initiative doing some great things.
They have a workshop where you can donate furniture and maybe find the piece of furniture that you are looking for too.
Reviive is another fab social enterprise that takes in donated furniture, repairs and refurbishes it, and sells it to raise funds for various local charities.
Based in Shropshire, they make it really simple for you to donate your furniture by collecting, up-cycling and selling to raise funds for local charities.
Can our garden furniture packaging be recycled?
A big part of ordering new garden furniture from Lazy Susan is that it will be shipped to you RTA (Ready To Assemble), and that basically means that our garden tables and chairs will be sent with the legs off.
To ship safely and efficiently, we have to do it that way. The component parts must then be safely and securely packaged to protect the metal and its painted finish while in transit.
Our packaging for our June table is shown in the photo below (apologies for the quality it is just a quick snap we took in our warehouse on a camera phone).
All our furniture is shipped in cardboard boxes. The box itself is what is known as a Telescopic Carton, whereby the sidewalls of the box lid fit over the sidewalls of the box base to provide additional protection and rigidity.
The boxes themselves can simply be taken apart/cut down to size and popped in your recycling bin or taken to your local recycling centre once your furniture is constructed and you're happy with it.
To protect the component parts we use no polystyrene. Whilst it can be recycled at a specialist centre, it is messy and disposing of large pieces is tricky.
Our protection currently comes from a heavy-duty bubble wrap. This is something we are currently working hard to replace over time but it offers excellent protection.
And whilst you can’t just pop it in your curbside recycling bin as it is not a "hard plastic", bubble wrap can actually be recycled.
It is made from Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) much like your supermarket plastic bag, so to recycle you need to take it to a recycling centre or designated recycling bin.
Taking it to your local supermarket is a straightforward way you can do this as they generally have bag recycling bins.
Many of us here at Lazy Susan will keep it and re-use it. We roll it up and it's there if we need to post a gift to someone or if we sell something on eBay. It always comes in handy!
Other protective elements include honeycomb carton corners, and these are also made from cardboard, so they can be easily recycled.
However, we know that whilst our packing is fit for purpose (i.e. shipping to you the customer), its green credentials could be better, so we are currently working with our suppliers to test and source green alternatives.
If you have any further questions regarding sustainability, recycling or our garden furniture in general, please don’t hesitate to contact our Customer Service Team.