26 May 2024, 03:59
By Furniture News Aug 20, 2019

Waste not, want not – the furniture industry's war on plastics

Each year, Furniture News asks some of the UK’s top retailers to share their views on some of the most significant industry developments, and how these might impact their future. In an excerpt from our annual Year in Review special (which features in the January issue), we ask the panel's members for their thoughts on how much influence the green agenda – in particular the war on plastics – is having on the furniture industry …

Fuelled by revelations about sea pollution driven by the BBC’s Blue Planet, the war on plastics truly took off last year, and increasing pressure was applied to businesses to ensure their plastics are responsibly sourced and disposed of.

Demand for sustainable product has driven product development and sales for some time, but has the war on plastics in particular helped refocus the consumer’s attention on eco-friendly product, and, if so, it this visible in the furniture market?

Steve Pickering (Sussex Beds): The momentum for seeking more sustainable, eco-friendly product lines has grown, prompted by programmes such as Blue Planet. Sadly, though, change is slow, and for the general consumer the priority remains price and value, with sustainability a secondary reason to purchase. This does not mean we as an industry should not all work together to seek more sustainable methods of manufacture, supply and packaging.

Gavin Boden (GB Agencies): The furniture industry is always slow to react to anything like this, and are almost last to the table. We will see a lot of new furniture ideas trying to capitalise, but I think only a very small amount will be successful.

Mike Murray (Land of Beds): Mattresses with green credentials are still something of a niche market, but we are working closely with our partners to develop environmentally-friendly products – not only in response to the growing number of customer queries, but also as a family business wanting to do the right thing by the next generation.

There is a real opportunity to come up with a new material to protect and package mattresses during transit. A significant 90% of mattresses are currently delivered in huge plastic bags, so, as an industry, I would love us to come together to explore and implement more eco-conscious packaging. There must be a better solution – and you never know, a new business could emerge out of it!

Steve Adams (MattressOnline): Our customers most certainly resonate with green issues, so we go to great lengths to promote the eco-benefits of our applicable product listings. MattressOnline as a company are actively working hard to increase our own green credentials, from smarter packaging processes to our old mattress recycling, which is 100% landfill avoidance.

Peter Harding (Fairway Furniture): We have always sought to do whatever we can to minimise our environmental footprint – be it our use of route-planning software to reduce the miles per delivery, installing solar farms on our stores to generate electricity, recycling all cardboard, wood and plastic waste, changing all our lighting to low-energy units or switching to the use of biodegradable plastic bags for wrapping products ready for delivery, we are doing as much as we can.

No one company can change the world, but together we can all work to do as much as we can. Customers expect that we will do all we can, and moving forwards being able to demonstrate our green credentials will be evermore important as a marketing and corporate social responsibility tool.

Read more feedback from our panel in the January issue of Furniture News.

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