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BCFA Sustainability Forum | Top Thoughts for the Contract Furniture Industry – Part 1


What does sustainability for the contract furniture industry really mean?

We recently went to the BCFA Sustainability Forum, which you can view here. There were some top thoughts which really leapt out as worth sharing.

1. Industry Standards to be aware of...

Awareness of industry sustainability standards and programmes are growing. The BCFA website highlights sustainability partners with accreditations and sustainability programmes:

  • FISP (Furniture Industry Sustainability Programme) was created in 2006. FISP is recognised as the benchmark for sustainable practices in the UK furniture industry
  • Planet Mark, has a sustainability certification and programme. They do have some useful guides available here.

2. Explaining the problem

The sustainability forum included a presentation from one of the BCFA sustainability partners, Planet Mark. One of the key points which Jo Little really got across was explaining, ‘what all the fuss was about’ when it comes to sustainability being a big issue for everyone.

One of the most striking graph included was one which was created by NASA, as below, which shows when we started to burn fossil fuels the carbon levels increased significantly and this is now the situation we are in:

NASA Carbon Dioxide Graph

Carbon Dioxide Nasa Graph

Since the 1950’s the carbon dioxide levels have gone higher than ever before and this is causing huge changes in our weather patterns. We are at a critical stage and this is the decade of action.

As this BBC graph shows.

How much worse will the problem get?

How much worse will the problem get

3. The Solution? Everybody needs to be taking action

International governments recognise that action needs to be taken. You can read more about the recent top 9 decisions made at Cop 26 in Glasgow this year here.

Jo Little made an excellent point of why businesses should be interested in sustainability, as she remarked 'where there is carbon there is a cost'. Hopefully this point alone would inspire companies to look at their carbon foot print and want to reduce it.

Jo also pointed out that part of the solution is not just aiming for carbon neutral but for net-zero. Definitions as below, but effectively large organisations can become Carbon Neutral by offsetting the pollution they make, by planting more trees as an example. However, this doesn’t reduce emissions or solve the problem of carbon emissions being created. Net Zero looks at reducing emissions. However, we don’t have all the technology or advances in science to just hit a button and become ‘Net Zero’ and therefore it will take time and effort to achieve.


  • Carbon-neutral means purchasing carbon reduction credits equivalent to emissions released, without the need for emissions reductions to have taken place.
  • Net-zero means reducing emissions in line with latest climate science, and balancing remaining residual emissions through carbon removal credits.

Jo remarked towards the end of her presentation that ‘This is up to all of us, we all have a responsibility’. She also said that we all need to start talking about sustainability and what we are doing to make a difference, highlighting that the message is about ‘we want you to come on a journey with us’.

The next presentation was by Paul O’Brien, Sustain Recycling Manager, who is on the Net Zero journey. They set up their recycling plant 15/20 years ago to tackle the internal packaging and waste problem and the centre has grown over the years. The recycling of contract furniture and the process it goes through was fascinating and covered in our next blog.

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