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Reuse & Recycling of School Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment

MassDEP developed this resource to help local schools inventory their surplus items and find companies to remove, reuse, and recycle them.

Table of Contents

Overview

A school renovation or demolition can often result in countless unwanted desks, tables, chairs, cabinets, shelves, and other furniture being sent to landfills or incinerators. This is largely due to tight project timelines and the popular misconception that disposal is the fastest, cheapest, and easiest option.

Image of reused/recycled Massachusetts school furniture at Jamaican college.

The costs of renting dumpsters, hiring trash haulers, and paying disposal facility tipping fees can really add up. With labor as a fixed cost, loading unwanted school furniture into trailers and shipping it to organizations in need can actually cost up to 40 percent less than loading that furniture into dumpsters and sending it off for disposal.

Choosing to reuse or recycle also results in quicker decommissioning of old school facilities, as well as cleaner and safer job sites.

With a little pre-planning, reuse and recycling of surplus school furniture can save your community money; better equip schools and students in other parts of the state, country, and world; and prevent hundreds of thousands of tons of perfectly usable items from being buried or burned.

Know the Rules

With any project involving unwanted furniture and equipment, it’s important for you understand the rules that apply to disposal of surplus property by governmental bodies, including local schools.

Section 15 of M.G.L. Chapter 30B: The Massachusetts Uniform Procurement Act outlines the process for disposition of surplus supplies based on their estimated value

Valued at Less
Than $10,000
Valued at More
Than $10,000
You may follow the written procedures of your local governing body. You must offer the furniture and fixtures through competitive sealed bids, public auction, or established markets.

From a tax perspective, surplus school furniture, fixtures, and equipment more than seven years old are considered to have completely depreciated in value. In these cases, you will want to know what your local procedures are for disposing of “worthless” supplies.

You may need to get multiple quotes for scrap furniture disposal. The lowest quote will generally come from a vendor that specializes in reuse and recycling. There is one such organization under state contract, and a number of others that are not, but you can still seek quotes from.  

For schools with newer furniture and equipment, the estimated value of the surplus may require following the process outlined in M.G.L. c. 30B, Chapter 15. In this case, surplus must be offered by competitive sealed bids, public auction, or established markets. This means not only will your unwanted items get a second life locally, but can also generate revenue for the municipality. Any furniture and equipment that cannot be placed locally can then go through the same process outlined above.

Use State Contracts

Your municipality may wish to avail itself of a statewide contract to obtain school furniture, fixture, and equipment recycling and reuse services.

Image of surplus school furniture being loaded into shipping container.

There are a number of benefits and cost savings associated with doing so, including:

  • Pre-screened and diverse vendors,
  • Pre-negotiated pricing, and
  • Reduced impact on the environment.

Learn more from the Massachusetts Operational Services Division.

Applicable State Contracts:

FAC86: Solid Waste & Recycling Services

  • Covers 21 categories of materials.
  • Includes 10 vendors, including one (IRN: The Reuse Network) that specializes in furniture reuse and recycling.

FAC96: Records Management, Storage & Archiving Services & Moving Services Statewide Contract

  • One of the moving service vendors, (GRRO International, part of Wakefield Moving & Storage Inc.) provides a surplus redistribution program to ensure that items are reused or recycled.

FAC110: Hazardous/Universal, Medical, Electronic Waste Disposal & Emergency Response

  • Connects you with vendors who collect difficult-to-handle items and provide cleanup services when things go wrong.

Other Resources & Tools

See below for helpful documents and information you can use to plan and implement your surplus school furniture, fixture, and equipment reuse and recycling project. 

Additional Resources

Contact

Online

Contact MassDEP erin.victor@mass.gov
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