Senator named winners of UK sustainability award
Office furniture manufacturers Senator International have been named winners of the 2013 Furniture Makers’ Sustainability Award.
Senator beat off stiff competition from three other shortlisted companies - Hypnos Beds, Premiere Kitchens and Community Playthings - to scoop the second award made by the Furniture Makers to recognise the progress being made to reduce the impact on the environment of furniture manufacturing in Britain. The award is open to members of the Furniture Industry Sustainability Programme (FISP) and holders of the Furniture Makers’ Manufacturing Guild Mark (MGM).
“All the shortlisted companies were able to demonstrate they had made significant progress during the year to improve sustainability across all aspects of their businesses,” said Oliver Heal, organiser of the awards. “But in the end the judges were unanimous in their decision. It was obvious that sustainability is a crusade that goes to the very heart Senator’s business.”
Senator stood out “for their thoroughness, progress in the last year, width of activity, leadership in this area of the industry, ability and willingness to push boundaries and for their real understanding of the value of sustainability in their business,” said Charles Vernon, immediate Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers and chairman of the panel of judges.
“This award is an acknowledgement from the whole furniture industry of Senator’s achievements, and will only lead to us increasing our efforts in this field, to remain at number one,” said Paul Clarke, Senator’s commercial director. “We take our sustainability responsibilities very seriously, sustainable practices are woven into every aspect of our business, to minimise any negative impact on the environment. The establishment of a Recycling Division, and FISP membership, proved to be the catalysts that enabled us to ‘internally offset’ the carbon generated through the utilities used in all our production processes.”
Paul Hobson, marketing director of Senator International, received the 2013 trophy from Luke Palmer of last year’s winners, Orangebox, at the latter’s London showrooms at the start of Clerkenwell Design Week.
David Walton, chair of FISP and also one of the judges said: “The standard of entry was extremely good last year but this year even that was exceeded. It is very good to see that companies are pushing back the boundaries on sustainability and making real cost effective improvements as a result. Companies within FISP are no longer satisfied with a level of performance that just meets the requirements of ISO14001, they are now looking at new, novel approaches to sustainability that are beginning to have a real business impact.”
The other judges on the panel were Alan Marshall, liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers and environmental adviser to the industry; and Barbara Chandler, freelance writer, journalist and photographer - assisted and advised by James Bell, FIRA’s environmental consultant.
More about the four finalists of the 2013 Sustainability Award
Community Playthings, based in Robertsbridge, East Sussex, is a manufacturer of furniture and play equipment for primary schools. Notable events during the year were certification of the Quality Management System to ISO 9001 and the Environmental Management System to ISO 14001. An original aspect of this company’s approach is the installation of factories at the heart of their communities. A good example of how to significantly reduce packaging costs through redesign was cited that had produced a corresponding reduction in damage in transit, lost packages and incorrect deliveries.
Gloucester-based Premiere Kitchens specialises in making kitchens for local authorities and housing associations and was a worthy finalist for the second time this year. It is evident that the commitment to improving sustainability is firmly anchored at the heart of this medium sized manufacturer. Its systematic approach to reducing energy consumption and waste had made considerable cost savings and improved the bottom line. For example skip costs had been reduced by 96% and energy saving investments are forecast to produce significant annual cost reductions. Much emphasis is placed on sourcing suppliers locally who are all subject to an annual environmental review. An unusual detail that illustrates the care that Premiere take was the information that the residual ash from its Biomass burner has been declared landfill safe and is now being used by a local farmer as fertiliser supplement, thereby completing the ecological cycle.
Hypnos Beds, with factories in Princes Risborough, Bucks and Long Eaton, Notts,
also reduced the number of skips used by 96% (and therefore the corresponding amount of waste going to landfill). Employee involvement in cutting waste is a key part of the ‘Hypnos Vision & Values’ which seeks to develop a positive working culture within the business. Its efforts have been recognised as it is the first UK bed manufacturer to achieve BS PAS 2060 Carbon Neutrality Standard. A review and re-design of products has enabled it to completely eliminate
the use of foam within mattresses. But perhaps its most outstanding initiative was the setting up of The Furniture Recycling Company which provides a national collection, disposal and recycling service for beds, upholstered furniture and wooden furniture.
One of the UK’s leading office furniture manufacturers, Senator International, based in Accrington, Lancashire, puts sustainability at very heart of the company, with the objective of ‘internally offsetting’ its Carbon Footprint of production. Persistence has reduced the amount of waste going to landfill from 65% to 8%. In 2012 Senator recycled 1,200 tonnes of waste that would previously gone to landfill; 470 tonnes of packaging from customers and suppliers as well as from its own factories were recycled and over 200,000 items of packaging were re-used. Three recycling centres are operated which handled 51,000 items of furniture and a Re-manufacturing Division has been set up. Senator recently achieved accreditation to ISO 50001, an internationally recognised energy management standard, the first FISP member to obtain this distinction.
The Furniture Industry Sustainability Programme (FISP) aims to foster and promote sustainable development in the furniture industry through four key objectives:
- Effective protection of the environment
- Social progress
- Prudent use of natural resources
- Improving business growth and employment
Today FISP has over 65 members internationally and has become firmly established as the furniture industry forum for all environmental and sustainability issues.
The Manufacturing Guild Mark is the Mark of Excellence for British furniture manufacturers. One of three Guild Marks administered by the Furniture Makers, it is awarded to companies rather than products, recognising best practice across a wide range of criteria, backed up by third party inspections. It is currently limited to a maximum of just 50 companies.
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