The furniture industry: what’s the impact on our planet?
More respectful of the environment and our health, sustainable furniture makes it possible to fight against the impact of the furniture industry on our planet.
Sustainable furniture to combat the impact of the furniture industry on our planet
Even if it isn’t the most polluting sector today (see the report on air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions “Namea-Air” published by SDES), the furniture industry, nevertheless, has a legitimate impact on our planet. In addition to using natural, raw materials that come from limited resources like wood, the furniture giants use certain materials and manufacturing processes that result in huge amounts of waste.So what is the real impact of the furniture industry on our planet? Are there sustainable alternatives to preserving and protecting our environment?
The furniture industry: a little-known polluter, yet …
To manufacture our sofas, kitchen furniture, cupboards or any other type of furniture, the leading market groups use several types of materials:
- natural raw materials, which come from limited resources
- synthetic materials, often the source of the overproduction of harmful waste to our planet and our health (polished, heavy metals, VOCs, formaldehyde, etc.).
The use of limited natural resources is problematic for furniture manufacturing
Wood is one of the most frequently used raw materials in the furniture sector. Harvested in natural environments, this limited resource is particularly sensitive. Indeed, certain geographical areas have fallen victim to significant deforestation. Each year, nearly 7 billion large trees are cut down worldwide without being replaced (a total area of 200,000 km2). In Indonesia, for example, two-thirds of logging is illegal. In Romania, 366,000 hectares of forest have disappeared in the last 20 years. However, it takes centuries for shaved forests to regenerate and return to their original state. At this rate, it is estimated that all tropical forests will be extinct in about 50 years.
In an attempt to protect the environment and forests in particular, several eco-labels have been introduced in recent years which help guarantee the origin of wood used in furniture. Based on 15 ecological criteria, the NF Environnement standard targets home furniture, professional furniture and community furniture that has a reduced environmental impact.
Other certifications guarantee the traceability of manufacturers’ wood supplies. The label PEFC – Forest Certifications Recognition Program – brings together several national organizations from around the globe. They aim to protect more than 190 million hectares of forest in total (9% of the world’s exploited forests).
The FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) also monitors timber trade from areas threatened by deforestation (around 50 million hectares worldwide). Buying furniture with PEFC and FSC ecolabels ensures that the wood comes from sustainably managed forests.
The production of harmful waste throughout the life cycle of furniture
The furniture industry also uses several types of synthetic materials which can double the negative impact on the environment by creating pollution during the manufacturing phase as well as at the end of the furniture’s life.
Plastics and synthetics are mostly made from fossil fuels, such as oil. However, these fragile and natural resources are not inexhaustible and their extraction can destroy entire ecosystems. Not to mention that the use of some of these materials during the furniture manufacturing phase (paints, lacquers, varnishes, inks, colors, adhesives and adhesives) generates mainly dangerous greenhouse gases. By using these raw materials, the furniture industry contributes to the pollution of our planet.
ADEME (French Agency for Environment and Energy Management) regularly issues recommendations and guidelines regarding these issues. For example, it recommends designing durable furniture or improving existing products to minimize their impact on the environment, from manufacturing to recycling. They also make recommendations on product life cycle analysis and eco-design.
To limit its impact on our planet, the furniture industry must therefore focus its efforts on three main points:
- Using environmentally friendly, raw materials and combating the depletion of natural resources
- Designing products that are stronger and more durable or easier to recycle at the end of their life-span
- Using less energy and producing less waste in the production process.
Our sustainable and eco-friendly furniture (link to page “sustainable furniture and eco-responsible) respects these guidelines.
Invest in sustainable and eco-responsible furniture to preserve our environment household.
Every year, 1.7 million tonnes of products reach the end of their lives, about 26 kg per capita.
(https: // www .furniture.co.uk / page / why-recycle-your-furniture /). Some furniture industry professionals want to be able to meet their recycling obligations by controlling the ecological transition of their sector. Eco-furniture is an association approved by the Ministry of Ecology. It proposes to organize the collection and recovery of used furniture so that furniture at the end of its life can be reused, recycled or used to produce energy.
Regularly alerting citizens about their consumption habits, ADEME points out the dangers of overconsumption and its consequences for the environment. The agency estimates that a home holds about 2.5 tons of equipment, including furniture and appliances(https://www.ademe.fr/modelisation-evaluation-weight-carbon-products-consuming-cars- equipment). The manufacture of this many objects requires 45 tons of raw materials. From their creation to their destruction, these objects result in the emission of about 6 tons of CO2 into the air. This is what is called the “carbon weight” of the object.
Eco-design, use of poorly processed eco-materials, use of untreated raw materials, innovative technologies, sustainably and responsibly managed forests, local manufacturing and processing, time limitation, reduction end-of-life packaging, dismantling and recycling … The eco-responsible furniture offered on WeDesignGreen (link to home page) is part of a responsible and ecological approach, from the manufacturing process to the end of life stage.
If the sustainable furniture industry’s highest priority is to limit its ecological footprint and its impact on our planet, it also has a secondary goa – to guarantee its customers a healthy, unpolluted and safe environment.
Are these reasons enough to turn to sustainable and eco-responsible furniture to limit the impact of the furniture industry on our planet?