FSC® International and national partners involved in a European project on sustainable furniture officially released two videos today – one for businesses and one for consumers – that shed light on conscious choices related to the use of wood in the furniture sector.
The European furniture industry is a dynamic sector: furniture manufacturers enjoy a good reputation around the world thanks to their creative ability, design and quality of materials, so much so that almost two out of every three pieces of high-end furniture sold in the world are produced in the EU (source: European Commission).
Increasingly, the industry is now discovering that alongside modern lines, style and cutting-edge finishes, choosing raw materials from responsible sources and communicating this commitment to consumers and target markets is a plus. Responding to a survey launched by industry newspaper FurnitureToday, companies confirmed that consumers are increasingly educated about sustainability issues and preferentially seek out brands that include green messages related to materials or processes.
This focus also partly explains the prominent role that wood has regained in furniture and interior design. After having been almost abandoned in favor of materials such as plastics and metals, it is now rediscovering a new fortune due in part to the fact that it remains one of the ultimate sustainable materials.
Of course: not all wood is equal and sustainable. Even if furniture production is not the primary cause of deforestation, the furniture industry still has a responsibility to ensure the legal and sustainable origin of the wood it uses. And this is precisely the starting point of the two videos (one aimed at the B2B, the other at B2C) launched by FSC International and the European FSC network offices to emphasize the importance of choosing wood certified to environmental, social and economic sustainability standards.
“We thought of this short content as a tool for the 10,000 certified companies worldwide (5,000 in Europe) active in the wood-furniture industry, useful in spreading awareness of responsibly sourced wood and the FSC label,” said Alexia Schrott, FSC Italy Marketing Manager and project coordinator. “Images and graphics tell the story of how a sustainable supply chain is constituted, the meaning of FSC labels, and the commitment to ensuring forests for all, forever. It is a good starting point to explain to suppliers, brands, retailers and consumers the value of a commitment that is much more than just a green label”.
These videos are the final product of a project launched in 2018, and which has seen FSC Italia engaged at the forefront to promote the use of responsibly sourced wood in the furniture sector, increase awareness of FSC certification and recognition among consumers. This activity has led the NGO to work closely with trade associations, companies and retailers, culminating in the creation of the FSC Furniture Awards, a competition created to recognize the efforts of FSC-certified companies in the European indoor and outdoor furniture sectors.
Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC) has announced the winners of the fourth FSC Furniture Awards. In keeping with its motto “Better living, healthy forests”, FSC rewarded companies in the European furniture sector to recognize their commitment to sustainability. The ceremony was held at the ADI Design Museum in Milan.
“The winners have demonstrated their exceptional commitment to sustainability of their raw materials,” said Alexia Schrott, FSC Italy Marketing Manager and Furniture Awards project manager. “They chose FSC certification to prove that, and FSC recognises their commitment with these awards.”
The official award ceremony took place today in Milan at the ADI Museum, preceded by a roundtable discussion on challenges and opportunities in the wood-furniture sector. Among the attendees were: Antonella Andriani, Associazione per il Disegno Industriale (ADI) Vice President; Omar Degoli, President of the Circular Economy group of the European Furniture Industries Confederation (EFIC); Maria Porro, President of the Salone del Mobile; Jeremy Harrison, Chief Markets Officer of FSC International; Diego Florian, Director of FSC Italy.
Award winners in the three main categories:
Commitment – for sustainable procurement policies for wooden furniture products
Manufacturer: Gała Meble Sp. z o.o. (Poland)
Retailer: T&S Home & Living GmbH (Germany)
Brand – for using FSC brand in a conscious and proactive way
Manufacturer: Kvist Industries A/S (Denmark)
Retailer. llva A/S (Denmark)
Communication – for excelling in promotional activities and advertising campaigns
Manufacturer: Stosa s.p.a (Italy)
Retailer: Pier Import (France)
FSC Manufacturer of the Year
Indoor: Hammerbacher GmbH (Germany)
Outdoor: Euroform K. Winkler s.r.l (Italy)
FSC Retailer of the year
Otto Group (Germany)
“According to our 2021 Global Consumer Research, more and more people are seeking out furnishings made from sustainable sources: eight out of ten people expect companies to sell wood and paper products that don’t cause deforestation. Among those who recognize the FSC label, almost the same proportion – 8 out of 10 – prefer FSC-certified over non-certified products,” said Jeremy Harrison, Chief Markets Officer of FSC International. “The data demonstrate that FSC’s mission to offer sustainably sourced raw materials for manufacturers, retailers, and consumers can really make a difference and contribute to the zero-deforestation strategy promoted by the European Union”.
Alexia Schrott, added: “We are happy to see that the response of the companies has been high despite the difficulties brought by the pandemic crisis first and then by the scarcity of raw materials. It is clear that sustainability, and in particular FSC certification, has become a reference point for producers, retailers, and consumers. An essential element for anyone entering the European and world furniture markets.”
Sustainable furniture in Europe and Italy
Versatile, robust, “warm”, with different species available for different solutions, wood is the furnishing material par excellence. However, nowadays there is still a high risk that wood comes from illegal or unsustainable sources.
Despite the growing number of countries and regions that have introduced regulations banning the trade and use of illegally harvested timber and derived products, tracing the materials back to the forest can be hard because supply chains are often complex labyrinths. FSC’s certification of supply chain standards makes it easy to ensure sustainability of wood, with environmental, economic, and social benefits.
For this reason, the furniture sector has shown an increasing interest in certification. In 2022 there are 5,382 FSC active certificates along the supply chain in Europe (an increase of 4.6% over 2021). Among the countries with the highest number of certificates are Poland (905), United Kingdom (760), Italy (631) and Germany (425)*.
For the fourth year in a row, through the Furniture Awards, FSC has celebrated and promoted companies that are leading the way in Europe with their exceptional dedication to offer their customers products that come from responsibly managed forests.
* Source: FSC International Database, 2022.
Two megatrends have been shaping our shopping behaviour in recent years: E-commerce and sustainability. An FSC certification or promotional licence make it possible to link these two topics in an optimal way, to gain customer approval and to directly increase sales success.
Not least due to the pandemic of the last few years, online shopping has become even more established. Even if hopefully an end to the Covid-19 restrictions is soon in sight – convenient shopping from on the road, from the sofa or from the PC workplace has become an indispensable part of our lives. More and more consumers are doing their errands and shopping via digital channels – whether it’s a new piece of furniture, food, fashion or gardening accessories. At the same time, the importance of sustainability in purchasing decisions is increasing significantly. Shoppers are increasingly paying attention to sustainable features such as FSC certification, even on online sales channels. According to a recent study, about 76% of consumers want independent certification for the sustainability of products and materials.
With a high recognition rate, the FSC label is the best-known sustainability label in many European countries – and worldwide.
According to a statista.de study, the GMV turnover (Gross Merchandising Volume or gross value of goods) of the top 100 online shops in Germany has grown by around a third from 2019 to 2020 to 49 billion euros. The big players with more than 1 billion euros GMV each are: Amazon, Otto, Zalando, Mediamarkt, Saturn and Lidl. It is exciting that all of these mentioned companies, except for the electronics specialists, have an FSC promotional licence. But many FSC licence holders can also be found among other e-commerce players.
The sale of FSC-labelled products enables the promotion of sustainable products in line with today’s consumer needs and a positioning as a responsible company. There are several ways in which companies with an FSC certification or promotional licence can promote FSC-certified products online: a company can promote FSC-certified products, purchasing guidelines or cooperations with FSC. This includes, for example, banner advertising, website articles, advertorials or posts on social media.
In its own online shop, a company can offer FSC-certified products and publish extensive statements in connection with FSC. This provides users of online shops with sustainable orientation for their purchasing decisions. It’s the case of online marketplaces such as Amazon, OTTO, Ebay or Mercateo, where companies can communicate their sustainability efforts to their customers using the FSC trademarks.
Marketplaces offer various technical options to find FSC-certified products quickly and easily, thereby drawing greater attention to the certified products. One example is the Climate Pledge Friendly Amazon programme, in which suppliers can participate. Another established example is the “sustainable” award on otto.de. On both online marketplaces, suppliers with their own FSC certification or advertising licence can use this to stand out in particular and increase their sales chances with responsible consumers.