Office furniture includes seating, desks, storage units, file cabinets, tables, and systems furniture (or "cubicles") used in virtually all federal offices. Most office furniture is made of wood or steel. Other materials used in office furniture manufacturing include polyethylene terephthalate (PET) in fabrics; plastic, which is integrated in components such as laminated work surfaces and arm rests; aluminum; particle board; and medium-density fiberboard (MDF), which is thicker than particle board. Recovered steel, aluminum, wood, agricultural fiber, and plastic are used to make office furniture. Furniture also can be refurbished or remanufactured.
Recommended Recovered Materials
- Additional Links
|Product||Material||Postconsumer Content (%)||Total Recovered Materials Content (%)|
|Furniture structure||Steel 1||16||25-30|
|Cellulose Loose-Fill and Spray-On||Postconsumer Paper||75||75|
|Particleboard/ Fiberboard component 2||
Wood or wood composite
Greater than 0
|Plastic furniture component||HDPE||70-75||95|
|Remanufactured or Refurbished Furniture||Various||25-75||25-75|
1 The recommended recovered materials content levels for steel in this table reflect the fact that the designated item is generally made from steel manufactured in a Basic Oxygen Furnace (BOF). Steel from the BOF process contains 25% - 30% total recovered steel, of which, 16% is postconsumer steel.
2 Particleboard and fiberboard used in the wood components of office furniture may also contain other recovered cellulosic materials, including, but not limited to, paper, wheat straw, and bagasse. The percentages of these materials contained in the product would also count toward the recovered materials content level of the item. In addition, while EPA has no evidence or indication that wood treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA) is currently used in office furniture, EPA is not recommending the use of CCA-treated wood as a recovered material in office furniture. The arsenic in CCA is a known human carcinogen and EPA is currently conducting a thorough and comprehensive risk assessment of CCA as a part of the pesticide reregistration process for CCA. In addition, EPA is conducting a risk assessment for children who contact CCA-treated wood playsets and decks.
EPA did not identify any standards or specifications that would preclude government agencies from purchasing office furniture with recovered materials content or remanufactured or refurbished office furniture. GSA requires that remanufactured furniture meet the same Underwriters Laboratories, ASTM, and Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer's Association standards and fire codes (Boston and California) as new furniture.
of Manufacturers and Suppliers
This database identifies manufacturers and suppliers of bike racks containing recovered materials.
Office furniture can be ordered through the General Service Administration's (GSA's) online ordering system. In addition, GSA publishes various supply catalogues, guides, and schedules for recycled-content products available through the Federal Supply Service.
Buy-Recycled Series: Nonpaper Office Products (PDF) (7 pp, 92K, About PDF)
This fact sheet highlights the nonpaper office products designated in the CPG and includes recommended recovered-content levels and a list of resources.
This background document includes EPA's product research on office furniture as well as a more detailed overview of the history and regulatory requirements of the CPG process.