LAWRENCE — KU Surplus reached a milestone Feb. 20 by donating its 20,000th item to area nonprofit organizations since the program was established in 2007. KU Surplus is a program of the Center for Sustainability, which collects and redistributes furniture and office goods that are no longer needed by departments on the University of Kansas Lawrence Campus.
Eric Kirkendall, founder and director of Lawrence Creates, collected the donation, which included modular furniture panels, light fixtures and other supplies. Lawrence Creates and the Lawrence Art Guild have frequently used items from KU Surplus to furnish the Makerspace Center for Innovation and stock with office supplies and art materials.
"If it weren't for this program, we wouldn’t have anything,” said Kirkendall.
Through KU Surplus, items deemed as surplus due to replacement, remodeling or downsizing are diverted from the landfill and made available first for reuse to KU departments. Those items that do not find a home on campus are either sold through public auction sites or donated to area not-for-profit organizations.
“Donations are a result of a campuswide effort to get the maximum value from our furniture,” said Surplus Operations Coordinator Sam Pepple. “Surplus prides ourselves in being able to find homes for items that are no longer needed at KU. It is so much better to get items out into the community rather than gathering dust in a closet, or, worse yet, just ending up in the landfill.”
In the past year, KU Surplus has prevented more than 200,000 pounds of materials from entering the landfill. By selling items to departments at a nominal price, the program has saved KU an estimated $300,000 in avoided cost during that time period.
“I am very proud of the valuable service KU Surplus provides for our campus and our community,” said Jeff Severin, director of the KU Center for Sustainability. “By capturing and redistributing surplus material, we are able reduce or environmental impacts, save money for campus departments and support the local community.”
KU Surplus is funded in part through revenues, with a goal of being completely self-sufficient within the next two years. Recent changes to state statues and Kansas Board of Regents policy has allowed the program to expand and explore additional options for redistribution. Severin hopes the program can eventually expand to recover additional materials, including fixtures and building materials removed during building remodels, and develop additional partnerships to further reduce the environmental and financial effects of campus development.
KU departments wishing to purchase surplus materials can view inventory online. Customers can also view items in person during KU Surplus store hours from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Tuesdays or by appointment at the Maintenance and Surplus Building, 2303 Bob Billings Parkway. Appointments can be made by calling 785-393-4256. Anyone who would like to receive inventory updates can email “subscribe” to firstname.lastname@example.org.