29 May 2024, 02:21
By John Hubbard Jun 27, 2023

Carbon reporting in focus

Carbon reporting is the latest focus for the Furniture Industry Research Association (FIRA), which recently held a members’ forum dedicated to the topic, writes John Hubbard, technical consultant at FIRA International (the association’s service provider) …

The Furniture Industry Research Association recently hosted a Carbon Technical Forum for its members. Hosted by association chair Brian Ahern, the forum aimed to help members understand more about carbon measurement and ecolabelling, and to provide an opportunity to share the challenges, good practice and complexities around the different approaches that are being adopted in the supply chains, and how the industry can work together to present a clear strategy towards zero carbon.

I kicked things off by giving the attendees an introduction to carbon measurement, looking at the three scopes included in an organisational carbon footprint: Scope 1 – direct emissions under the control of the organisation; Scope 2 – indirect emissions from purchased electricity; and Scope 3 – indirect emissions from supply, purchased goods and services, and distribution.

I explained how carbon measurements were used in the tendering process, and examined the challenges of presenting carbon emissions in different ways – such as a carbon footprint for the whole company, against assigning carbon emissions to individual products such as an item of furniture.  

Ecolabeling was also discussed, with a look at how these are being used in the furniture industry, and some of the limitations to their wider adoption. Joanna Knight, furniture consultant and FIRA council member, then expanded this topic using her experiences of working with SMEs and how they respond to questions raised by their customers in the supply chain.

Following these background presentations, an open panel discussion took place where delegates, who represented a range of organisations across the supply chain, from manufacturers to distributors and retailers, shared their experiences and raised concerns about how there is a need for meaningful and coherent information that can be readily compared and that does not require vast resources to administer, but also allows the industry to work towards challenging carbon-reduction targets in a timely manner.

During the forum, a decision was taken by the association to issue a statement in support of the furniture supply chain using a similar approach regarding the measurement and communication of embodied carbon in products.

The statement, which can be found on the FIRA website, addresses the key points that were raised by members during the discussions at the consultation event. This document is intended to be a starting point for debate and collaboration across the supply chain, to demonstrate that the furniture industry is taking meaningful action on the journey towards carbon zero.

It shows that we are working together to develop good practice, along with a meaningful exchange of information with a clear destination in mind, taking into account the diversity of materials, products and businesses that form the modern furniture supply chain.

The intention is to start an ongoing dialogue involving manufacturers, distributors, retailers and specifiers, but we are also looking to include large corporate and public bodies which have major furniture demands and are key players in the supply chains.

Carbon measurement and reduction is just one part of the modern sustainability landscape, and activities around carbon reduction should be sympathetic to the other aspects which are becoming more significant – such as material resource preservation, circularity in the supply chain and preventing waste and pollution.

For more information on any sustainability topic, please contact me at [email protected].

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