Sustainable design philosophy

For us, it’s important that we consistently work to reduce our environmental impact by exploiting materials, energy and resources as efficiently as possible. Under our sustainable design philosophy, we manufacture products with circular layer-by-layer designs and long service lives which, thanks to their quality, function and style, do not need replacing as they can be updated over time.

Focus areas, sustainability goals and mission

Today, the furniture industry is facing multiple sustainability challenges. Deforestation, corporate social responsibility, the use of chemicals, peak raw materials, waste and the climate are some of the focus areas we have identified as most important. To achieve change, we have set ambitious goals for sustainable design, sustainable materials and responsible supply chains, with the aim of making all our products completely climate neutral by 2040 – ten years before the Paris Agreement. Our sustainability goals are also represented in our mission statement: We pledge to work for a sustainable future that includes People and the Planet, and where our Products are designed and made to stand the test of time.

Sustainable design philosophy from start to finish

For us, sustainable design means using materials, energy and resources in efficient, climate-smart ways. While this means using fewer components and consuming less materials without compromising on our high quality, the most important sustainability factor is for our products to have long service lives. We want to create furniture whose design, form and functionality allow it to be redesigned and renovated as necessary. Under our “Keep your darlings” design philosophy, we create products designed to last, products you’ll want to keep. Another part of our sustainability work includes helping our customers sell or donate used furniture to non-profit organisations so it can be reused or recycled.

Circular layer-by-layer design

The circular economy plays an important part in the sustainable climate transition, and we have adopted the circular model in the design of EFG products. Thanks to the layer-by-layer design of our products, each component can be removed, repaired or replaced. This means products can be upgraded with new fabric or parts over the long-term. Turning a stool into a chair or replacing a chair’s metal base with a wooden one can give furniture new life and remove the need to buy a brand-new piece.

Circular materials

No less than 85% of the climate emissions from furniture come from the materials, and recycling can help us reduce its climate impact by as much as 20–40% compared to buying new. EFG uses as much recycled material as possible and makes sure such material can be recycled again when part or all of the furniture has to be replaced.

When the product, against all odds, reaches its end, our policy is to use materials that are as pure as possible and not to mix natural and synthetic materials, or synthetic materials with other synthetic materials to facilitate recycling. Natural materials must be incinerable, recyclable or ideally biodegradable, and all synthetic materials must be recyclable. EFG helps drive the development of sustainable office furniture by designing flexible, circular products made from recycled or recyclable materials.

Eco-labelling and certifications

We use the following labels and certifications in the EFG product range and the materials in our furniture:

EFG’s sustainability work in brief

– Circular products with long lives

– Sustainable choice of materials and surface treatments

– Lower energy consumption and CO2 footprint

– Eco-labelling and certifications

– Sustainable procurement and full supply chain insight

EFG’s sustainability work based on the UN’s global goals

Based on the UN’s 17 global sustainable development goals, EFG has identified the following as the most important in our operation:

08 – Decent work and economic growth

EFG offers products that are sustainably and responsibly produced on the basis of quality, environmental and social conditions. We ensure that our products are tested to fulfil quality standards and that production takes the environment into account. And last but absolutely not least, we make sure that the people manufacturing the furniture work under fair conditions. As part of this, a great deal of EFG’s range is certified with Möbelfakta, and our goal is for as many products as possible to bear this mark.

12 – Responsible consumption and production

When we design new products, we use as little material as possible without having to compromise on quality or function. Our goal is to move from linear to circular production with responsible recycling and reuse of products. Our production is certified according to ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. Our sustainable design process follows Nordic Ecolabel guidelines.

13 – Climate action

To promote sustainable exploitation of ecosystems and stop the loss of biological diversity, we use sustainable and recycled materials and water-based paints, and we pack and transport our products efficiently. Since 2013, we have reduced our CO2 emissions from outbound transport by 17%. From May 2019, we will be saving an annual 8.53 tonnes, or 35%, of plastic through improved packaging methods.

80 % of our fabrics are ecolabelled according to EU Ecolabel or Oeko-Tex.

90 % of the wood we use is FSC® labelled

15 – Life on land

We use FSC® certified wood in more than 90% of our products. EFG’s FSC licence number is FSC-C009111. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) strives to achieve responsible use of the world’s forests, with a goal of developing forestry methods that best take account of the environment and social conditions. For example, FSC protects threatened species and supports the rights of workers and indigenous peoples.

Sustainability – Q&A

Sustainability focus areas and goals

How does EFG work with sustainability?

As a furniture producer, we inevitably impact the environment in several different ways. These include haulage, energy consumption and the materials used during manufacturing. About ​85 percent of the climate impact generated by the furniture industry comes from the product itself and the materials it’s made of. EFG has certain sustainability focus areas where we put our greatest efforts to achieve the biggest effect, including sustainable materials, sustainable design and responsible supply chains​.

What are EFG’s sustainability goals?

EFG has overarching sustainability goals, the most ambitious of which is for our products to be fully climate neutral by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris agreement. Our sustainability goals are also represented in our vision: We are committed to a sustainable future, encompassing People and the Planet together with our Products – designed and produced to stand the test of time.

How do you measure your sustainability goals and progress?

Step one is to measure the carbon footprint of our products, to find out the emissions they cause today. We began large-scale measurements in 2023, and by the end of the year, we had calculated the climate impact for 24 percent of our range. By the end of 2024, 85 percent of the range will have carbon calculations. Step two will be to review the products and identify the major sources of emissions and the measures that can be taken to reduce them. This work is in progress today and will continue for many years. We will conduct new carbon calculations whenever we modify our products, thus tracking their carbon emissions from year to year.

Do you measure the carbon footprint of your furniture?

We conduct life cycle analyses and prepare Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for our furniture to calculate carbon emissions. When preparing an EPD, we first conduct a life-cycle analysis (LCA) to calculate the product’s emissions and environmental impact based on its life-cycle perspective. Because the precise point where the largest climate impact occurs in a life cycle may differ from one product category to another, the LCA calculations must be customised for different products. This is done using product-specific calculation rules known as Product Category Rules (PCR). Data are then transferred from the calculations in the LCA to an EPD. For the calculations to be comparable, both the LCA and EPD are prepared according to ISO 14025, Environmental Labels and Declarations, Type III.

What is EFG’s design philosophy?

EFG’s design philosophy requires furniture to use pure materials and a layer-by-layer design enabling parts to be removed, repaired and recycled as necessary, allowing us to optimize, reuse and prolong product life and recyclability. We have adopted a circular model in the design of our products such that we make good use of every step in the manufacturing process, all the way from raw material to waste and back to raw material again. Overall, our design philosophy seeks to extend the service life of furniture; it’s the cornerstone of our sustainability goals.

Does your organisation have a program to involve your employees in your sustainability efforts?

We have a sustainability course that all company employees undergo. We also conduct product reviews for our employees, where we examine the sustainability profiles of new and updated products.

Do you take back furniture to renovate it or use its materials in new furniture?

While we acknowledge the importance of this, the way things stand today, the answer is no. However, we view this and many other areas as candidates for development moving forward. Achieving this in a smart, sustainable way would require a holistic review encompassing all factors including the impact of e.g. haulage. In the meantime, our layer-by-layer design and comprehensive disassembly instructions allow customers to replace specific parts and upgrade their furniture. We also support our customers in the responsible and sustainable resale or donation of used furniture to non-profit organizations, thus ensuring furniture reuse or recycling.

Future sustainable development

Where will EFG be in 10 years in terms of sustainability?

Our goal is for all our products to be entirely carbon-neutral by 2040 – a decade ahead of the Paris Agreement. This means lowering our climate emissions by half before 2030, and then continuing our work to include circular solutions that go beyond refurbishing and material recycling. This also includes updates of existing furniture to prolong lifetime. Product guidance as part of sales expertise will help customers make the right material and fabric choices.

What role does sustainability play in your company’s overall strategic plan?

Sustainability will play a crucial role for us moving forward. This is because we believe it’s the only way forward, not just for us as a company, but also for the entire world and its future.

What challenges do you see in the furniture industry regarding the green transition and sustainable product development?

The world is facing many environmental issues that can be viewed in the light of nine planetary boundaries. These look at whether we are using more resources per year than the planet can sustainably provide. Of the nine areas, the loss of biodiversity and eutrophication caused by the use of phosphorus and nitrogen stand out the most. By consuming resources, the furniture industry impacts the planetary boundaries in various ways. Also, the furniture industry is facing a number of sustainability challenges related to the green transition. Deforestation, corporate social responsibility, the use of chemicals, peak raw materials, waste and the climate are some of the focus areas we have identified as crucial, requiring prompt action. Beyond these challenges, we also see an increasing need for comprehensive legislation at the global level, and standards, governed by a unifying body, that focus solely on sustainability, climate and environmental issues.

What measures do you have in place to innovate and improve the sustainability of your products and processes?

To improve the sustainability of our products and processes, we have set ambitious goals for sustainable design, materials and responsible supply chains. Thus in practice, and in line with our design philosophy, we manufacture products with long lifespans that can be dismantled and updated over time thanks to their layer-by-layer design. Our circular approach encourages constant work on these matters. Another concrete example of our sustainability work is our preparation of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for all of our products. EPDs are an important tool that makes it easier to compare furniture, make eco-friendly choices and select better, more sustainable materials.

We also work with several eco-labels, including Möbelfakta, which meets the requirements for quality, the environment and responsible supply chains and is the leading, most sought-after eco-label for furniture in Sweden today.

Sustainable design​

What does sustainable design mean for EFG?

Our focus areas in sustainable design are:
– Long product life​
– High quality​
– Minimal material consumption (with no compromise on quality) ​
– Pure materials​
– Layer-by-layer design (modular construction)

What do you mean by layer-by-layer design?

Often, designing and manufacturing high-quality products using good materials isn’t enough. There’s always a possibility that customers will want to replace furniture before it’s worn out, for aesthetic reasons or due to downsizing to a smaller office. Regardless of the reason, customers need change over time, which means adapting the product to suit. We believe our products should be built modularly, allowing different layers of materials to be removed. For example, it should be possible to replace fabric or a tabletop if it wears out, while keeping the rest of the furniture. It should not be necessary to discard the entire piece just because one part is worn. This concept is known as future-proof design, where the product architecture is viewed as a set of changeable modules built in different layers that collectively form a whole.

How do you ensure long life?

With high-quality products, long life is guaranteed. However, even quality products will eventually show signs of wear. Our layer-by-layer design makes sure worn parts can be replaced, allowing the product to be renovated, thus extending its lifespan. Timeless design is also essential, so that furniture is not discarded due to fashion trends.

Recycling and upcycling

Do you have a recycling or upcycling program for old or unused furniture?

We provide instructions on how a product can be disassembled and what spare parts are available for each product. Under our layer-by-layer design, instead of replacing an entire piece of furniture, customers are able to partially upgrade it. Thus our spare parts should not just be seen as a means of repair when furniture breaks, but as a potential for an in-situ upgrade in 10 years or whenever the need arises. At EFG, we also support our customers in the responsible and sustainable resale or donation of used furniture to non-profit organizations, thus allowing the furniture to be reused or recycled.

Certifications and compliance

What eco-labels do you work with?

We work with comprehensive third-party Type 1 certifications, which means they are independent and non-profit. Swedish Möbelfakta is the leading eco-label and is in most demand for furniture in Sweden with requirements for quality, the environment and responsible supply chains. It’s the label EFG focuses on most. The label confirms that the furniture has consistently high quality, is an environmentally good choice and is produced under fair working conditions. Around 90 percent of the products EFG sells bear the Möbelfakta eco-label. Other eco-labels and certifications we work with include the EU Ecolabel (a joint European label that covers most product groups), OEKO TEX® (an eco-label with a focus on textiles) and FSC® (a certification system that encourages the environmentally and socially responsible use of the world’s forests).

Do you work with EPDs?

We conduct life cycle analyses and prepare EPDs for our furniture to calculate the environmental impact it causes. An EPD presents several environmental indicators, with carbon dioxide emissions being the most frequent request. There are also other data showing the effects furniture has on acidification and eutrophication. The demand for EPDs is increasing, and we’re busy preparing EPDs for our furniture, but it’s a big job that demands lots of resources in terms of both time and money. At the end of 2023, there were EPDs available for 24 percent of our product range. The goal for 2024 is for 85 percent to have EPDs.

What are the opportunities and pitfalls with EPD?

An EPD is a good way of finding out a product’s environmental impact, but the figures should be regarded as approximate.​​ Also, it would be a mistake to ask whether or not a product has an EPD and be satisfied with a ‘yes’. The existence of an EPD tells us nothing about whether a product is good or bad from an environmental standpoint; any product can have an EPD. An EPD is only relevant and of interest with regard to the outcomes it conveys.

Sustainable materials

How do you work with sustainable materials​?

We work with renewable, recycled and recyclable materials. Renewable materials include e.g. wood, i.e. materials that are part of the biological cycle. Recycled materials are primarily metals and plastics. Using recycled plastic can provide a significant environmental benefit as plastic is often incinerated today. Metal is extensively recycled for economic reasons. Recyclable materials are materials that can be recycled, reused or reclaimed. We try to avoid mixing different types of materials as it complicates recycling. Thus we always endeavour to use pure materials to avoid contaminating material flows. For example, it’s better to use pure types of plastic than to mix different types with each other or with wood chips.

What about eco-labelled textiles?

The EU Ecolabel and OEKO-TEX® are the two dominant eco-labels for textiles. Because textiles are one of the most chemical-intensive materials in furniture, it’s beneficial to limit the amount of harmful chemicals by using materials covered by one of these eco-labels.

Where does your wood come from?

The wood in our products is FSC® certified (EFG’s license number is FSC-C009111) and comes from responsibly managed forests and other controlled sources, mostly in Europe. All of the wood is traceable and meets the highest forestry standards.

Materials sourcing

How do you make sure the materials used in your furniture are sustainably sourced?

In the case of wood, we only purchase FSC® certified wood. We use environmentally certified components wherever possible, such as those that bear the EU Ecolabel or OEKO-TEX® for textiles. OEKO-TEX® is also a commonly used label for padding. To ensure consistency in our material choices, we adhere to the requirements of the Swedish Möbelfakta eco-label and check all our materials against these standards.

Responsible supply chains​

How do you involve your supply chain in your sustainability efforts?

All of our suppliers must have their own environmental goals for their relevant areas. They must also have fair working conditions, which we check on. Suppliers are key players for achieving goals related to eco-labels and certifications, and for reducing carbon footprints, as they often have the answers we are looking for. Close collaboration with suppliers is crucial for success.

How do you make sure your sub-suppliers adhere to your sustainability requirements?

We choose our suppliers and partners carefully. We set high standards for performance and sustainability, including social responsibility. We set clear demands for our supply chain and manage potential risks by routine checks. Also, we constantly monitor and improve our processes. All of our suppliers have to sign and comply with our code of conduct, and we are constantly refining our methods for monitoring supplier compliance with the code, which makes our approach and demands clear. Based on the principles of the UN Global Compact, the code includes requirements for working and employment conditions, child labour, anti-corruption and human rights such as non-discrimination and freedom of association, as well as ethical business behaviour and respect for the environment.

Where is your production located?

Final production takes place at EFG’s factory in Tranås. Component manufacturing takes place in the supply chain in Sweden and Europe, as well as Asia. Roughly 92 percent of the components are manufactured within the EU, and 8 percent in Asia.

Packaging and haulage

How do you work with logistics and haulage to deliver your products in a more eco-friendly way?

We focus on smart packaging, space-efficient haulage, route optimization and delivery precision. Over the last decade, we have achieved a significant decrease in CO2 per cubic metre freight. We use external haulage companies to optimize the use of space in their trucks, making sure trucks do not return empty. The use of biofuels is increasing, which is positive. However, it’s important to note that final product haulage only accounts for 2 percent of a furniture product’s total carbon footprint, while waste management accounts for 10. Thus it’s absolutely essential that products be made from the right materials, which account for around 85 percent of a product’s carbon footprint.

Do you use eco-friendly packaging materials or practices to reduce the environmental impact of your products during transit?

We use packaging made from recycled materials and packaging that can be recycled, such as corrugated cardboard and clean plastics. The recycled content in the corrugated cardboard packaging is around 80 percent. We constantly review how to haul and package our products in a more eco-friendly way.

Production and manufacturing

How do you ensure compliance with environmental regulations and standards in your manufacturing process?

We use a legal monitoring service to ensure compliance with the environmental and occupational health and safety laws that affect us in production.

Do you use alternative energy sources such as wind and solar?

EFG uses only renewable energy, primarily in the form of hydroelectric power. We encourage our suppliers to choose environmentally friendly alternatives in their energy supply.

Want to know more about how we work with sustainability?