Approaches by furniture companies

New solutions for the "green" office

The debates on climate change are gaining in intensity, partly because of the summer's flood events. Some of the most discussed measures are the reduction of CO2 emissions and the conversion of production processes. For some time now, the office furniture industry has been setting higher sustainability goals. Many manufacturers now summarise their successful measures in an annual sustainability report. With the introduction of the LEVEL certificate, there is also a European eco-label for the first time that combines all relevant aspects of sustainability. Against this background, many companies are expanding their product portfolio with innovative and environmentally friendly solutions.

Nov 24 2021

100 percent design and recycling 

An important aspect with regard to sustainability in the office sector is the avoidance and reuse of waste. For furniture production, recycling has therefore been common practice for some time. Until now, however, reused residual materials often only accounted for a relatively small proportion of the materials used.

Now, production is being optimised in such a way that this percentage is significantly increased - for example, in the current version of the "Maarten" chair collection by the Spanish manufacturer Viccarbe. This is now made of 100 percent recycled and recyclable polypropylene. A configurator also makes it possible to adapt the chairs to personal requirements.

Sellex, also based in Spain, recently added a new criterion to its own catalogue: an additional selection refers to the products in the general range that are made of100 percent recycled and recyclable materials.

CO2-negative "Flash Line" carpet tile collection © Interface

Easier to adapt 

Recycling also plays an important role in other elements of office equipment. In the acoustic products of the Finnish company Yeseco, bottles made of plastic are given a new life. The manufacturer's acoustically effective panels and fabrics are made of recycled wood and plastic fibres and can be used for a variety of applications.

Similarly flexible are the whiteboards that the Basel-based supplier Studiotools makes from paper. They are 75 per cent lighter than comparable products and can therefore be easily transported around the office. With a honeycomb construction, they nevertheless have an astonishing stability. The new "Ascent" seating system by the Swedish label Green Furniture Concept is also easily adaptable to individual circumstances.

The modular bench adapts to any room structure and can be configured into a swinging seat. Wood from certified forestry is used for the seating surfaces. Alternatively, the manufacturer offers a low-carbon aluminium that consists of at least 75 percent recycled material. 

Ecological footprint 

A reduced carbon footprint can also be achieved in the truest sense of the word through office floor coverings. For example, the company Object Carpet is currently investing in a completely sustainable production cycle. The German supplier of designer carpets wants to launch the first new product with infinite carpet life cycles in the near future. Leftovers such as trimmings or backing material are collected, shredded and processed into building materials.

The manufacturer already offers carpet made from recycled plastic, among other things, in cooperation with the Healthy Seas initiative. The flooring specialist Interface is pursuing similarly ambitious goals with regard to sustainable production. Its goal is to become a CO2-negative company by 2040. It has just launched its second carpet tile collection, which is CO2-negative from raw material extraction to leaving the factory. 

Carpet made from recycled yarn at Ökoworld AG © Object Carpet

A holistic approach 

Many manufacturers' commitment to a more sustainable office world is aimed at holistic concepts. For example, the new "Epix" office collection from the Canadian company Keilhauer includes tables, seating and storage furniture that is 100 percent recyclable.

For a longer life cycle, the collection, designed by Swedish design studio Form Us With Love, can be easily disassembled and fitted with spare parts. The furniture is produced in a way that avoids waste. In addition, the company offsets the electricity consumed in the process with renewable energy credits. A comprehensive approach that is sure to set a precedent. 

Author: Broekmann+Partner

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