Like many other businesses, furniture providers must manage the effects of greenwashing, something that Aspect Furniture says is a major challenge for its business. As an eco-conscious company, having the right “green” credentials and being innovative with products and packaging is a key focus. The commercial furniture provider says that its challenge, and opportunity, is walking the talk and having tangible measures for its environmental performance. The company has celebrated a decade with the Environmental Choice New Zealand (ECNZ) ecolabel and says that manufacturing and sourcing products in a sustainable manner is at the heart of what they do.
Aspect Furniture says it got ECNZ certification to prove its core values and be recognised for its commitment to sustainability. National Sales Manager Roy Campion says the ecolabel really confirms that the business is doing the right thing and gives its clients the right assurance. “This also flows up stream to our supply chain and allows us to align with suppliers who share the same values,” he says.
Currently, the majority of Aspect Furniture’s core product offering has the ecolabel, this means that five of its staple products are endorsed as environmentally preferable. Certification for Aspect Furniture is reflected in many of its key initiatives including the use of Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certified timbers, E0 low emission formaldehydes, and lead-free plastics for its products.
With many fragile products to distribute, the company works to protect its products while having minimal impact on the environment. To do this the company operate several initiatives to reduce packaging and eliminate plastic and polystyrene where possible. While recycling is good, Roy says that it is not always the right answer for waste. “We wanted to find alternative options that are economically viable and become innovative with the reusing of our by-products,” he says. “We offer a product stewardship programme for customers to ensure that old Aspect Furniture products are either reused or recycled appropriately. Anything to avoid more items entering landfill.”
In terms of materiality, Aspect Furniture is committed to using water-based adhesives as other types can have a negative impact on the environment and staff wellbeing. Internally, the company places strong emphasis on local manufacturing and looks for opportunities to provide more jobs to Kiwis. As more than half of its product range is produced in New Zealand and Australia, the company has significantly reduced its carbon footprint by sending less products across the world.
The ECNZ ecolabel has allowed Aspect Furniture to explore more business opportunities. “It has become a part of supplier audit, vetting and demonstration process,” Roy says. “The benefit is really third-party verification that we are doing the right thing. You can’t make that sort of assessment up, it’s hard data.”
Third-party verification through ECNZ is strong proof for clients with similar values, allowing them to align themselves with Aspect Furniture and encourage them to buy its products. Another major benefit for existing clients is the ability to achieve Green Star ratings for their buildings when using Aspect Furniture products.
For Aspect Furniture the other benefits of being certified include increased innovation towards sustainable solutions. Aspect Furniture’s latest Project series of functional, modular furniture was designed with sustainability in mind. The company partnered with a New Zealand designer to create 100% recyclable light-weight innovative products. While not an ECNZ licensed product, this included a whiteboard made with recyclable cardboard instead of acrylics. The Project series was awarded as a finalist in the 2019 Best Awards.
ECNZ ecolabelling is certainly something that remains at the forefront for Aspect Furniture in driving and living out its values. Roy says the company plans on adding to its stable of certified products and include the ECNZ ecolabel in collateral including its website, social media and proposals. “Accreditation gives us and our customer peace of mind,” he says.
Aspect Furniture was founded by CEO Richard Simmons in 1982. Today, Aspect makes collections at the leading edge of international product design, technology and workplace best practice. With almost 40 years’ experience designing and manufacturing collections for the modern workplace, its office furniture has a reputation for being robust, ergonomic and comfortable throughout the working day. Aspect Furniture make a large percentage of its product range in New Zealand and Australia. In addition to speed and flexibility, local manufacturing also creates a smaller environmental footprint. Aspect Furniture is proud to run on ethical and sustainable business practices. The business has certification from Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA) and Environmental Choice New Zealand (ECNZ), and its products are aligned to the Green Star rating tool.