As a company, Europlan has committed to a focused programme of work, centered around four key environmental, social and governance principles (ESG). Our mission is to be Future Fit by 2030 and inspire better outcomes at the heart of your workplace. But what does this mean in practice? What are we doing as a business to make this a reality? How are we bringing our learnings to our clients to inspire them to have more sustainable practices? And how can we share and promote our experiences with the wider furniture industry and fit out industry?
Future Fit by 2030
We believe the next six years are critical to cement sustainability practices in our business and make a more positive impact on how our people and environment interact. In order to be ‘future fit’ by 2030, our sustainability strategy will assess each aspect of our business operations, from cradle to cradle, to ensure we have mindful and sustainable practices. That means a laser focus on product development, design, sourcing, operations, project management and our consulting service, and how we dispose of our products at the end of their natural life.
Our 2030 sustainability vision encompasses how we operate as a business, how we can make a positive impact on the workplaces of our clients, working with our consultants to deliver more impact on their projects and sharing our insights with our industry.
We’ve been in business since the 1960s, and we feel that Future Fit by 2030 is a way we can give back to our local communities and the industry that has supported us to be a successful Kiwi business over the decades.
We’re also the first to admit that we don’t have all the answers, so we’re really open to opportunities to collaborate, and share ideas that make our individual and collective footprints a little lighter.
How we plan on hitting our sustainability goals
We’re mindful of the fact that we’re a business that creates products. We’re realistic that the manufacturing industry produces carbon emissions. Since the early 2000s we’ve looked at ways to act more environmentally responsible. In 2007/08 we introduced Product Stewardship across our entire product range. This meant that we started to actively manage the environmental impacts of production, distribution and disposal. This programme started us on our journey to repurpose, recycle and reuse products and product components where we can.
In more recent years, we’ve focused on reducing our carbon footprint in terms of how we distribute our products and how we package them.
Our ESG goals are broader than purely an environmentally friendly lens. The office furniture systems we create are designed to be the heart of our client’s workplaces. We seek to design enjoyable, comfortable workplaces that enhance a company’s productivity, wellbeing and ability to collaborate with others. Our expert knowledge ensures that our office floor plans are created with an employee first approach. We then help our clients navigate our range of sustainable, circular, resilient and cost-effective products to land on a fit for purpose solution. Our approach offers our clients a whole-of-life value for money workplace design that considers people, environment, community and company values and mission.
The Four Pillars of Future Fit by 2030
Environmental product certifications
We’ll spend the rest of this decade committing to offering products to our clients that support human and environmental health. Environmental and ethical product certifications are fundamental to our business model and achieving this lofty goal.
The Declare labelling programme is an important part of this work, as they offer a way for us to be more transparent about product components, chemicals used in a product’s manufacture, location of manufacture, product life expectancy and end-of-life options for each of our products. This programme of work is undertaken by the Living Building Challenge® (LBC), that meets the requirements of leading green building standards, including the Core Green Building, LBC, LEED, and WELL Certifications, and also helps to identify and avoid modern slavery suppliers.
Our Declare labelling roll out has three key phases:
- December 2023 – implement Declare labels for all major product groups.
- December 2024 – Declare labels will be added to our entire product portfolio.
- From December 2023 – any new products added to our stable will Declare labelling.
Respect for culture and community
We are taking conscious steps in improving our internal culture, the wellbeing of our team, and engaging with our local communities.
As we look forward to 2030, we will tackle this aspect of our ESG programme by:
- Maintaining our commitment of offering a living wage as a minimum for all our employees.
- 2024 will see us undertake a Te ao Māori audit to better understand how our business connects people and nature, and where we need to grow to ensure we respect tikanga (customary values and lore) and mātauranga (indigenous knowledge).
In terms of our community, we’re wanting to continue the impact programme we have in place already with All Heart NZ, to ensure that surplus products are redirected to communities in need. We’re working together to share leads and encouraging our clients to use their services too.
End-to-end carbon reduction
Today we have a focus on a number of key environmental principles:
- Environmental management – working with Toitū Envirocare to ensure we operate in a more sustainable way. We are actively reducing our carbon footprint to meet ISO14064 accreditation.
- Product stewardship – We practise strict product stewardship for the lifecycle of the furniture and office accessories we supply. This means that most of our products can be dismantled, recycled or repurposed at the end of their useful life. We only source furniture that’s manufactured in facilities that are accredited with ISO:14001 Environmental Management System and ISO:9001 Quality Management System.
- Waste minimisation – reducing and elimination of waste is important to us, especially when it comes to packaging, and the refurbishing of older products. We extend the life of our products by re-powder coating steel components, adding new tops for existing table bases, refurbishment and cleaning of soft seating, reupholstering of soft seating and repurposing of existing table tops into new tables or furniture.
- Conscious workplace design – our consultants offer expertise on other environmentally focused design concepts such as biophilic design, ethical sourcing and living building systems.
The runway to 2030 gives us an opportunity to build on the sustainability work we’ve already achieved and achieve some significant milestones in carbon reduction:
- Working with Toitū Envirocare we aim to achieve a 50% reduction in CO2 per $ revenue by 2024-25.
- Our end goal is to achieve zero waste to landfill by March 2024.
- Assist our customers to reduce their waste streams by managing the end-of-life for their Europlan sourced products.
Advocate for industry-wide low emission freight solutions and encourage our industry to also push for locally sourced raw materials and made products, and freight emission solutions.
Ethical and sustainable sourcing
Ethical and sustainable sourcing has long been part of our DNA. Exclusive relationships with commercial furniture partners such as Haworth, are testament to our values alignment with other companies doing great work in the sustainability space. For us to be successful in improving industry outcomes, ethical and sustainable product ranges are integral.
The next few years will see us take some important steps in this arena:
- December 2024 – Implement a Modern Slavery policy to monitor and ensure ethical working conditions for the staff at our key Asian suppliers.
- March 2025 – Proactive labour exploitation monitoring of our NZ based suppliers.
- March 2025 – key team members to undertake WELL certification training, to ensure Europlan has a focus on optimising the human and social capital performance of our client’s businesses, by creating people first workplaces.
Why it’s important to share our learnings with our industry
Our ESG programme of becoming Future Fit by 2030 is a significant investment for Europlan. It’s an investment we’re willing to make for our people, our clients and our planet. But we also feel a responsibility to share our learnings with our clients and the wider industry for the benefit of our local communities.
We’re keen to extend our learning and collaborate and learn from others doing similar things, both within and adjacent to our industry. Deep learning and understanding of how we create impact in the environmental, social and governance space can only be a good thing for our business, our team and everyone who develops a relationship with us.
As advocates for the furniture and fit-out industry, we’re keen to ensure we highlight sustainable and socially innovative concepts to empower other businesses to make their mark in the ESG space too. After all, we’re all in this together – let’s put more emphasis on people and the planet for the sake of future generations and the workplaces of tomorrow.
We can’t wait to bring Future Fit 2030 to life in our projects, our supply chain and through our many and varied relationships. We encourage you to join us on our journey to create a better place to do business.