Furniture’s Impact: A Comprehensive Guide to Life Cycle Assessment

1. Let’s talk about furniture and its impact on the environment!

It’s important to be aware of the impact furniture has on the environment. While some companies only care about the revenue generated from the sale of this furniture, more and more furniture companies are looking into the full life cycle of their specific products to see where improvements can be made. This type of behavior will have long-term benefits for the brand, the customer, and the planet!

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into the concept of Life Cycle Assessment and explore how furniture retailers can make a positive impact on the planet through its use. So let’s get started.

2. Why more retailers are caring about the life cycle assessment of their furniture?

customers shopping for new eco-friendly furniture

Have you noticed how more furniture companies are caring about the environmental impact of their products these days? Retailers are realizing that customers are wanting more eco-friendly and sustainable options. By caring about the life cycle assessment of their furniture, these brands can attract the more eco-conscious consumers while also reducing their environmental impact.

Having the data from completed Life Cycle Assessments allows decision makers at the see the environmental impact of each product they offer. In this way, they can choose to stock shelves with those products that had a low environmental impact. This also allows them to improve products that had a larger negative impact on the environment.

3. What exactly is a life cycle assessment for furniture?

So, you might be wondering, what is a Life Cycle Assessment? Well, in simple terms, it’s a full-blown investigation into a piece of furniture’s entire lifecycle. From the materials used to make it, to its production process, transportation, how you use it at home, and even what happens when the customer is done with it.

In order to conduct a comprehensive Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), retailers need to start by establishing their goals and scope. Next, inventory should be analyzed to determine what is being taken from the environment and what is being given back. The third step involves taking the data and turning it into measurable impacts from which you can draw accurate conclusions. Finally, the retailer needs to measure the conclusions reached to make sure they align with ISO 14044 standards.

By understanding the big picture of a product’s journey, retailers can make smarter choices that are better for their brand and kinder to our planet. If you want more information on conducting a LCA, you can find that HERE.

4. A deeper look into how furniture affects the environment

furniture being trashed on the curb

Alright, let’s dive a bit deeper into how our furniture can impact our planet. It all starts with the material/s furniture is made from. Companies using wood or other materials that are unethically sourced can result in mass deforestation, pollution, and more! Other materials used within furniture manufacturing can consume vast amounts of resources.

We also need to consider the manufacturing and shipping processes. There can be large amounts of material waste generated through poor manufacturing. Energy and other resources spent to manufacture and ship the furniture to stores or customer homes should also be considered. Inefficiencies within this stage can have major environmental impacts.

Finally, what does end of life look like for the product? If the furniture pieces are universally sent to the landfill, the impact of these decomposing pieces can be extensive. From greenhouse gasses to overcrowded landfills, the problems from furniture waste cause diverse environmental challenges. While it is hoped that many of the furniture pieces are recycled or reused in some way (e.g. donation), this is not data that retailers can easily track.

5. Improving furniture’s lifecycle

As mentioned above, extending a product’s lifecycle past initial use is a great goal for retailers. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, but one of the key components requires high-quality well constructed furniture that will not break down shortly after purchase. This quality allows the furniture to be used again through resale or donation.

First, educating consumers about the proper way to care for and maintain their furniture after purchase is important. This education ensures that more furniture pieces will be fit for reuse when the owner is ready for new piece. Furniture will also last longer which will drastically reduce the amount of furniture waste that is sent to landfills each year.

LoopDeco is ready to help with sustainable customer removal services

Retailers can also partner with companies like LoopDeco to provide sustainable furniture removal to their customers. This service ensures that gently used items (regardless of brand) are reused rather than trashed. They also strive to recycle items that are not reusable whenever possible. Reports on environmental impact of this service are then provided to the retailer to share internally and externally. Additional bonuses for this service include a more streamlined sales process and incentives for referrals.

There is a lot that a retailers can do to help extend the life cycle of the products they provide to consumers. Some industry leaders are also starting trade-in programs, recycling programs, and other initiatives to help reduce the environmental impact of their products at end of life.

6. Wrapping up – measure results and continue to improve!

Once accurate conclusions are found from the LCAs, options are researched, etc., a retailer will be able to make informed decisions that can then benefit the company and the planet!

Being fully informed through adequate research means that retailers can see their strengths (environmentally speaking) and areas that need improvement. This can lead them to push for more eco-friendly designs that are more easily reused or recycled. They can also improve aspects of their production and delivery to reduce the environmental impact of many of their products. Finally, they can find ways to drastically extend the life cycle of their products through proper education, sustainable furniture removal, trade-in programs, and more.

Clearly, having all the information regarding the environmental impact can help retailers make much needed improvements to products, processes, and much more! We believe that completing a thorough Life Cycle Assessment can help retailers improve their processes. Want to learn more? Check out this list of the top 10 companies that are shaping the the LCA industry HERE.

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