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How To Source Sustainable Furniture


Sustainability is a hot topic in the current climate but once you look behind the popular ethos it's easy to get bogged down in legislation and acronyms.

What does an sustainable approach to furniture design consist of?

  • Design for recycling - use 100% recyclable raw materials
  • Design for disassembling - so parts can be easily recycled
  • Build products to last a long time using good design and quality build
  • Take a sustainable approach throughout product creation. Optimise processes & resources used in manufacturing & packaging. Recycle production scraps.
  • Have an environmentally friendly working environment - a company should minimise energy use, properly dispose of waste and handle hazardous substances correctly as well as being socially minded towards their workforce and compliant with other workplace directives.

Before we get technical, have a look at our Sustainable Furniture blog for a more general overview.

Avoiding sustainability pitfalls


  • Use metal that is mostly made from the waste of recycled steel (most is, around 85% of steel in Europe is recycled)
  • Use metal that is certified by the supplier, which should mean that it does not contain traces of heavy metals and solvent
  • Avoid metal with chrome from unknown sources – the ‘bath’ in which chroming is carried out is toxic and can be disposed on in an un-environment manner. Aim to use chrome plating that follows the UNI EN ISO 14001 standards
  • Recycle waste from production, including sweeping from the factory floor.


  • Use first rate grain materials that come from well-known international producers. A good-quality product lasts longer.
  • Use plastics that are 100% recyclable – and do not mix materials in a way that they cannot be easily recycled (eg. avoid a plastic chair with a reinforcing core of a more rigid material in each leg).
  • Mark products in accordance with ISO 11469, so the type of plastic can be clearly identified for easy reuse and recycling


  • Use wood sourced from sustainable forests according to strict environmental, social and economic standards. (Ask to see proof of FSC or PEFC certification).
  • Use plywood and sandwich panels instead of solid wood. This is made from timber that is often otherwise thrown away
  • Use a water-based coating (rather than an oil-based coating), which lowers potentially poisonous emissions into the atmosphere & working environment.


  • Packaging should be fully recyclable, ideally made from corrugated paperboard which is widely recycled into new paper products
  • Carton boxes should be totally non-toxic and recyclable with printing with non-toxic ink.
  • As much packaging as possible should be removed from products before final delivery, to increase likelihood of it being recycled

To learn more about sustainable furniture, including eco-chairs and reclaimed wood table tops download our Furniture Knowledge Book.

Eco-friendly furniture product focus: Using reclaimed wood to make bespoke table tops

These tables tops are made from reclaimed floorboards, scaffold or soft found timbers including driftwood & reclaimed timber. They're are a great solution if you're trying to source eco-friendly furniture. Boards are sliced into 8-10mm thick slab panels, then pinned and glued to 18mm plywood, to form a top that's between 28mm-40mm thick. The edge can be fitted with either wood or metal edging and surface finished in matt, satin or semi-gloss wax oil finishes. Possible designs include diagonal squares, stripes, lattice, herringbone, geometric patterns & even American quilt patterns.

Each table top is made by hand in a socially-minded & low tech factory that believes in old-fashioned production values. Each table top starts life as a pencil drawing and is lovingly crafted by trained members of the local community that make up the ever-growing workforce. If you're looking for table tops with personality, charm and individuality that are great for the environment and the local community, you won't find any that are more beautifully unique than these. Click on the images for more product details.

Topics: Sustainable furniture

By Paula Stanbridge-Faircloth Paula Stanbridge-Faircloth on 23/07/18 11:35
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Hospitality Furniture Knowledge book

Searching for table sizes, wood finishes, researching chair materials or simply wondering what furniture will work best in a restaurant or hotel space? This book is packed with over 10 years of knowledge from the contract furniture industry.

What you'll learn:

  • Furniture specification tips
  • Space planning
  • Materials & considerations
  • Table top finishes & edge profiles
  • Chair robustness, testing & more

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