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This article first appeared in our Restoration Revolution issue of MyGreenPod Magazine, distributed with The Guardian on 06 Sept 2019. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox
Over the last 13 years, The Used Kitchen Company has recycled thousands of used and ex-display kitchens from showrooms and private homes, helping to divert tonnes of secondhand kitchens from landfill.
Looeeze Grossman started the company when internet selling was still a relatively new phenomenon. ‘I was asked if it would be possible to sell a kitchen online’, Looeeze tells us. ‘I soon realised that hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste were being produced each year by people discarding perfectly reusable kitchens.’
Ripping out kitchens
During the renovation process, builders tend to rip up old kitchens and throw them in the skip. ‘These kitchens are often very new, and equipped with stone worktops and high-end appliances’, Looeeze tells us. ‘All these materials make a kitchen highly reusable and resaleable.’
For Looeeze, selling an old kitchen seemed an obvious way for homeowners to make cash to put towards their new kitchen project. ‘Buying a secondhand kitchen directly could be an even better way of getting your hands on a cheap high-end kitchen’, she explains.
By selling kitchens online through The Used Kitchen Company (TUKC), Looeeze has created a way for both buyers and sellers to recycle their kitchens and make money in the process.
On launching TUKC, Looeeze discovered that kitchens in showrooms are frequently replaced with new displays. She found that existing kitchens were either sent directly to landfill or placed in storage, never to be seen again.
TUKC has now disrupted this cycle, and sells for over 650 showrooms across the country. The discounts are huge: the average ex-display kitchen is sold with 50-70% off its RRP, with used kitchens even further reduced.
Finding new homes
TUKC has over 18,000 registered buyers on its website, so Looeeze can usually find an old kitchen a new home. ‘We have sold a number of celebrity kitchens’, she tells us, ‘whose owners have loved the idea of their old kitchens being saved from landfill and finding happy homes.’
Every kitchen can be viewed in person, even if it has already been dismantled. Once a buyer has been found, the process of relocating a kitchen normally goes very smoothly, and the kitchen can often be delivered within days of purchase.
TUKC works with a number of independent kitchen fitters, who will carefully and professionally dismantle the kitchen and deliver it. ‘We normally sell kitchens as a whole’, Looeeze explains, ‘but we may sometimes sell high-end, top-of-the-range large appliances separately, like a Wolf range cooker or a Sub-Zero fridge.’
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Diverted from landfill
In recent estimations, TUKC has saved over 12,000 tonnes of kitchen waste from landfill to date. Its sustainable philosophy has also promoted a culture of reuse in the interior design industry as a whole, from kitchens to bathrooms. Homeowners are increasingly considering how they can recycle or reuse all aspects of their home during renovations.
TUKC has scooped a number of awards and appeared regularly in national press; it has even been endorsed by Kevin McLoud of Grand Designs.
Looeeze puts the company’s constant year-on-year growth down to its efficient and customer-friendly service, as well as its great track record for giving old kitchens new homes.
‘I am immensely proud of the concept that I have created, shaped and driven for the past 13 years’, Looeeze tells us. ‘Seeing homeowners own the kitchen of their dreams – for an affordable price –
has been truly rewarding.’
Knowing TUKC has also been a major force in cutting back on unnecessary kitchen waste is another huge buzz for Looeeze and her team; it provides a motivation to convince more homeowners to recycle their kitchen.
‘Within the next five years’, Looeeze says, ‘we expect that people will view recycling their kitchens in as familiar a way as recycling their plastic.’