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Spectrum, Goodwill teaming up to bring new life to old items

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Two companies in West Michigan are bringing new life to old furniture.

Spectrum Health and Goodwill are working together to make sure thousands of pounds of old furniture from the health care company will be recycled and repurposed.

Spectrum has been taking all the unused and broken furniture between its campuses in the region and shipping it to Goodwill, who is repairing it. The items are then either sold at a Goodwill, repurposed, given to non-profit organizations or sent back to Spectrum.

So far, about 40% of the items were sold and around 57% have been repurposed.

“Our goal is to divert - of what we take in - to divert at least 95% and we’re actually lower than that right now,” said Kimberly Harsch with Goodwill Industries. “We’re only sending 4% to the landfill, so everything we can do to keep things out of the landfill, keep reusing them, keep recycling them and help our planet.”

In addition to helping the planet, the initiative is also functioning as a job skills training program.

“It’s actually part of our goal to get to zero waste to landfill as the distribution center, so this is one of the initiatives we’re working towards as part of that,” said Sarah Chartier, Spectrum senior sustainability project manager. “The reason it’s important to us is we know economic health is based on having employment in the community.

“So we look beyond just the four walls of how we care for our patients to the actual health of the community.”

Goodwill says 12 people have gone through the training program, and they are looking for more organizations that would like to evaluate how they dispose of waste.

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