Sustainable furniture is more than just a trend
Sustainability is one of the most important social issues of our times. It started with local produce, green electricity and fair fashion, and now more and more sectors are developing an awareness of climate concerns. Meanwhile, sustainability has also become a key selling point when it comes to furniture. The Climate Pact run by the German Quality Association for Furniture (DGM) has played a vital role in this.
From the Blue Angel to the FSC: the impact of quality labels
Quality labels give consumers a quick overview of the environmental friendliness of goods based on various evaluation criteria. They can make a vital difference in a purchasing decision. For example, a study by PwC showed that 73 per cent of German consumers see sustainability as an important consideration when buying furniture. ￼CO2 emissions durch Herstellung und Lieferwege, fair working conditions and the pressure on raw materials are at the top of the list. But regional production, vegan materials, social engagement and circular economy strategies erfahren aktuell eine hohe Nachfrage in the sector also play a role and can result in sustainable desks or wooden furniture made from old wine barrels, alongside other inventive solutions.
Of the sustainability logos found on furniture, the German Federal Government’s Blue Angel and the FSC label for sustainable forestry are probably the most well-known. OEKO-TEX is the leading label for home textiles and bedding in particular. DGM has been offering its own certification for several years for the purpose of specifically recognising and promoting climate-neutral furniture manufacturers.
The DGM Climate Pact
The DGM label is based on companies’ carbon footprints. Sustainable firms must report their footprint and work to actively reduce it in order to receive the sought-after distinction. The DGM Quality Association divides emissionsen into three sections, known as scopes:
- A company’s direct emissions are recorded under Scope 1. This covers aspects including fuel for heating, fuel for the company’s vehicle fleet and energy generated and used by the company to produce goods.
- Indirect emissions from the company’s operations are grouped under Scope 2. These include the carbon footprint of the electricity it purchases and the environmental costs associated with the manufacture of its vehicle fleet.
- Scope 3 covers all other indirect CO2 emissions. Business travel and the carbon footprint of supply chains play a role here. The way goods are transported to customers and the lifespan of the company’s products are also recorded in this section.
Preparing this comprehensive footprint assessment can be complicated. While a relatively high degree of transparency is possible for the direct and indirect emissions in the first two sections, it’s not always possible to provide an assessment of the environmental impact of supply chains or of product life cycles – or only by making an enormous effort.
Compensating for this through carbon offsetting is therefore often essential when it comes to unavoidable CO2 emissions and those that are not under the company’s direct control. In addition, climate neutrality is not a legally defined concept and carries the risk of greenwashing. The transparency of the DGM label, which anticipates these concerns and defines clear guidelines, nevertheless inspires consumer confidence.
Brühl & Sippold: a role model for sustainable furniture
One example of a successful, comprehensive approach to the subject of sustainable furniture is that taken by the company Brühl & Sippold , which has already been certified as a “climate-neutral furniture manufacturer” three times. The manufacturer from Bavaria has its carbon footprint professionally assessed, identifies areas of savings potential and purchases quality-assured carbon credits to compensate for unavoidable emissions. In doing so, it supports initiatives like reforestation projects in South America or drinking water treatment in Africa.
Sustainability is a tradition at the company: in 2009, Brühl & Sippold was the first furniture manufacturer in Germany to be awarded the Blue Angel. The durability of its furniture, sustainable materials and the reuse of leftover materials are just a few of the areas targeted by its extensive CSR activities.
Sustainability labels build trust through transparency
The topic of sustainability is as important as it is complex. The furniture industry is addressing the issueVerantwortung by developing new sustainability labels and utilising existing ones. But with the multitude of climate protection certifications available, it’s not always easy to get a clear overview. In order to distinguish meaningful measures from mere greenwashing campaigns, customers need a concept that is transparent and easily understood. That way, sustainability efforts can become an important marketing tool capable of helping the environment and consumers in the long term. This trend, which is expected to continue for some time to come, was already a prominent topic at imm cologne in 2020.