The good news is, there are many ways furniture manufacturers can be more sustainable, with many companies already on the right track.
1. Create circular economies
Circular economies (CE) – where waste is designed out of product manufacturing and materials kept in use by recycling, and repurposing – are becoming a big industrial trend. They’re eco-friendly, create jobs and have extra economic benefits. Ikea, who have set a climate target of becoming ‘Carbon Positive’ by 2030, are a good example. They already run many CE initiatives, including:
- A furniture leasing service
- A “Learning Lab” where customers can undertake upcycling and repair workshops.
- A second hand store re-selling returned and reduced furniture.
- Collecting and reusing packaging.
2. Source responsibly
More furniture companies are now seeking materials from sustainable sources, such as wood harvested from sustainable forests. They’re also moving away from synthetic fabrics, made using environment-damaging chemicals, sourcing fabrics made out of materials such as soybeans, cotton and wool instead.
3. Use recycled materials
Using recycled materials for products, packaging and production processes is also becoming popular among furniture manufacturers. Polish makers Flokk, for example, buy 600+ tons of recycled plastics every year for their production line. Ikea have replaced wooden pallets with recyclable paper pallets, which, due to not requiring returning, also hugely reduces their CO2 emissions.
4. Phase out toxic substances
Many production substances, such as surface finishings, adhesives and treatments, that typically contain toxic chemicals, are being replaced with environmentally-friendly alternatives (Henkel, for one, produces many recyclable adhesives).
5. Switch to renewable energy
Solar panels, wind turbines and water power are already in use at some furniture manufacturers. Companies such as Lithuania supplier Vilniaus Baldai AB, transforms production wood waste into enough renewable energy to fully power its factories.