As consumers become more educated about environmental issues and more committed to leading a 'greener' lifestyle, they seek out choices that meet their needs for style, value, and ecological and social responsibility.
Their increasing consciousness drives them to seek out companies that not only use natural, sustainable materials to make their products but also, just as importantly, employ sustainable manufacturing practices. A 2015 Nielsen survey conducted in 60 countries found that 66% of the respondents were willing to pay more for sustainably produced goods, up more than 10% from 2014.
And this isn’t just limited to one segment of consumers; consumers across regions and income levels are willing to pay more, if doing so ensures they remain true to their values.
But, it’s not just consumers that are pushing manufacturers to adopt more environmentally and socially responsible practices. State, national and international norms and regulations are becoming stricter and more numerous than ever.
So, implementing more responsible production practices should be high on your list of priorities.
What can you do to make your manufacturing processes more responsible?
Reduce your waste
Even from the design stage, there are many ways you can reduce waste.
- Virtual prototyping keeps the number of physical prototypes to a minimum, saving material resources, time and money.
- For leather furniture, efficient hide management and marker-making will further improve material usage. You use only the raw materials you need, and limit your impact on the environment.
- With the right kind of production equipment, you could even reduce your power consumption by up to 50% – radically reducing your ecological footprint.
The right accreditations will let your customers know you are serious about operating responsibly, and act as proof that you’re implementing the necessary measures. They’re a stamp of approval that let your customers know they’re buying responsibly-made furniture from a company that shares their values.
ISO 26000, for example, is an international standard for social responsibility. It takes into account environmental, social and economic factors, and helps to ensure your organization is working as responsibly as possible.
Focus on your people
The world is becoming more technology-oriented. As a result, jobs that require physical labor and repetitive manual processes (sewing, cutting, foam assembly etc.) are perceived as less attractive – particularly to young workers. Finding, and keeping, skilled labor is becoming more difficult.
By automating certain parts of your production process, you can create a career path for your teams, and use their skills more profitably. They will be happier, will stay with your company for longer, and will be able to add more value to the business.
Keep your people safe
Safe working environments are crucial for any responsible manufacturer. By constantly monitoring work-floor safety, and investing in equipment with built-in operator protection for example, you can reduce the risk of injury or accidents to your workers.