Reference:BBC | Updated: 13 February 2020
Sustainability was once considered a lofty goal pushed for only by the most progressive, unrealistic companies. Today, however, attitudes towards sustainability have shifted dramatically, and it is virtually a necessity for any successful business to participate in green initiatives. Among many industries that have embraced environmental stewardship, the furniture industry may be one of the most interesting.
As consumers worldwide demand sustainable products across a variety of fields, every industry must adapt to satisfy their requests. Furniture customers are no different, and sustainable furniture – whether for home, office, or entertainment venue – has become a highly sought-after product. From the wood used for frames to the fabric and chemicals used to finish pieces of furniture, there is a lot that goes into sustainable sourcing and production, and consumers are doing the research to ensure that the furniture they buy is environmentally friendly.
This means that there have been many changes in the furniture industry and that there are even more to come. Leading furniture manufacturers would be wise to embrace these changes and adapt their business models in order to remain competitive and provide sustainable pieces. These are just some of the changes that are being made throughout the furniture sector.
More Responsible Sourcing
Furniture is made from a wide variety of materials – some natural and others synthetic. Whether found in nature or produced in a lab, however, sustainability has a major impact on an organization’s sourcing methods. Customers are often looking at where materials are coming from and are making purchasing decisions based on a company’s environmental record.
Wood is a common base for many pieces of furniture, but it is one of the most difficult materials to source sustainably. Manufacturers must do heavy research to find what types of wood are the most sustainable and then determine whether or not they can make sturdy furniture with them. This requires meeting with many different providers and testing the product.
The sourcing of fabric has changed drastically as well – even materials that are made synthetically. Because the production of synthetic fabric uses so many chemicals, companies must be aware of their pollution levels and make sure that they are using eco-friendly chemicals that are at least based on natural products. This means that many furniture manufacturers are changing to materials that can be made from items such as soybeans, feathers, cotton, and wool.
Once sustainable materials have been sourced, the focus shifts to production. As previously mentioned, certain fabrics and blends require the heavy use of chemicals, and that can lead to harmful waste materials and excess pollution. Furniture makers should be focused on minimizing their environmental impact and make the switch to green manufacturing as soon as they can.
In addition to cutting out abrasive chemicals and giving up on harmful materials, manufacturers often focus on using recycled materials in their furniture. Any piece that requires metal may include recycled alloys, and adhesives used for applying fabric are now usually water-based rather than chemically formed. Even small parts such as nuts and bolts can be formed from recycled material. Every little bit helps when it comes to sustainable production.
Focus On Efficiency
One of the key goals of any organization is to get the most out of the materials that they have, and to create products in the most efficient way possible. This means minimizing the amount of waste material and using as little energy as possible in order to save money while remaining friendly to the environment.
One such way to do so is to re-use excess materials from furniture pieces that had fabric, wood, or other product leftover. This concept of recycling material may seem like common sense, but it’s something that many companies neglected to do in the past. Fortunately, many furniture manufacturers today have placed a strong focus on this process, and they are benefiting both their brand and their finances.
Utilizing machinery and software that can accurately plan, place, and cut the perfect amount of material is a fantastic way to ensure that a company is working efficiently and without waste. Companies like Gerber Technology have the technology and expertise to help any furniture company upholster their products with sustainable materials and without creating excess waste.
The Gerber Difference
Gerber’s focus is to reduce the amount of labor required to finish any piece of furniture and to do so in the most sustainable way possible. By using state-of-the-art cutting machines in combination with highly-sophisticated CAD, digitizing and plotting services, Gerber can provide furniture producers with a high-quality product nearly every time.
These services aren’t limited only to standard furniture pieces, either. High-end, custom pieces that are designed for a specific room can still benefit from the powerful technology that Gerber utilizes for all of their customers. No matter what fabric or design a company is looking to use, Gerber has the ability to help. By leveraging Gerber’s end-to-end solutions and high-end machinery, any furniture manufacturer will benefit from lowered materials costs, reduced working hours, and an improved image based on sustainability.