During Clerkenwell Design Week 2019 we were enlightened with the knowledge of James Bell, our Sustainability advisor, at an informal breakfast talk at our Clerkenwell showroom. James has become an integral part of Davison Highley and his knowledge has enabled us to implement the vision of our Managing Director, Toby Davison for a sustainably run company.
If you didn’t get chance to join us, let us enlighten you! It’s a topic at the core of our business since well before “sustainability” become a buzz word yet one which can be easily implemented into most organisations and projects through common sense and efficient procedures.
Why sustainability matters?
It’s no secret that the planet is at a crossroads where we must all take action to reduce the impact of our behaviour on the planet. Non-government organisations, activists, environmentalists and governments have all issued their headline statistics which are commonly circulated through the proliferation of media and demonstrate clearly the issues we are all facing:
- The 2019 United Nations report states up to 1mio plant and animal species are at risk of imminent extinction which could result in the loss of around 25% of Earths biodiversity.1
- It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic particles in the ocean than fish.2
- By 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world's population could be living under water stressed conditions. 3
- The current world population of 7.6 billion is expected to reach 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100. 4
Global sustainability challenges
Sourcing products for interior design projects can often be driven by aesthetics and functionality, with discerning designers deciding between products presented in beautiful catalogues or showrooms. However the integrity of the product, in sustainable terms, is arguably instigated with the materials which have been chosen by the manufacturer.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSCTM) has rapidly become the benchmark for sustainable timber products, providing key assurance that timber products are responsibly sourced from certified forests, managed in accordance with strict sustainability criteria, and underpinned by a complete Chain of Custody through the saw mill, trader, processor and manufacturer. The timber is legally harvested, biodiversity is protected and access rights for local people are afforded.
Here at Davison Highley we’re proud that most of our raw materials are sourced within a 40 mile radius of our High Wycombe workshop keeping the impact of transportation to a minimum. FSCTM certification can be requested on all our products and our fabric suppliers are pro-active in the development of their sustainable fabrics which can be specified. Read more about sustainable fabric options here
Selecting from a wide range of sustainable fabrics
Design and Manufacturing
The Take.Make.Dispose. model is no longer relevant. There is now a need for manufacturers to look to a regenerative, circular economy in which manufacturers can look to retain the residual value of products, parts and materials. Life Cycle Planning is a framework to identify the salient environmental aspects of operations, products and services where management processes and designers explore the complete life of the product which can include:
- Recycling componentry
- End of life management
- Waste minimisation through design adaptions
- Sustainable raw materials
- Recycling materials
- Green design
- Packaging optimisation
Embracing a regenerative, circular economy approach to product development
In our case this strategy has led us to pursue certification to the voluntary ISO 14001 certification, which we are extremely proud of, demonstrating our commitment to environmentally sound practices throughout our organisation – something which requires systematic, consistent engagement from our team across the business.
Supply Chain Sustainability
Staggeringly, 32 million people globally are the victims of modern slavery, more than the population of Australia. Therefore, it is imperative that Interior Designers, Brand Managers and Specifiers sourcing contract furniture interrogate their supply chain in order to uphold the highest standards of ethical and social compliance assurance. All manufacturers have a responsibility to also work with a reliable supply chain in order to uphold the standards throughout the process.
Providing interior products for sustainable design projects can be about “ticking a box” in order to comply with a certain standard but we truly believe it’s more than that. We want to make it simple for our clients to confidently specify our products, but we also want to build our organisation ethically and in an environmentally sound way. This desire is driven from the top of the organisation through every employee.
Recommendations from our sustainability expert, James Bell, which are relevant whether you are a manufacturer, specifier or contractor include:
- Set robust standards and governance procedures to ensure consistent compliance
- Communicate the standards you require to your supply base
- Train key staff, particularly those involved in procurement
- Bolster supplier appraisal process and regularly evaluate key suppliers
As Toby Davison, Managing Director at Davison Highley explained at the end of the Breakfast Talk “We know that our customers don’t expect to pay more for sustainable products and that there is an expectation it will cost more but in reality, by intelligently analysing processes within the organisation there is no “price premium” and nor should there be.”