Kinnarps - Making Sustainably Conscious Buying More Transparent

25 October 2017

Marc Bird, Head of Marketing at Kinnarps UK

“The decision-makers of the future won’t be satisfied with buying a label. The trend is clear all over the world. People want to see what difference they are actually making. They don’t care about the symbol itself – they want to know how the company earned the label.” This is the message from Johanna Ljunggren, Sustainability Manager, Kinnarps AB, as they launch The Better Effect Index.

Having led the way in sustainable thinking, from their earliest growth in the 1940s to their current position as one of Europe’s largest workplace furniture manufacturers, Kinnarps is now looking to create something unique in their market place. They are therefore launching an Open-Source tool for companies to demonstrate the true credentials of a furniture product.

The Better Effect Index is Kinnarps’ way of simplifying and clarifying sustainability criteria in interior design projects. The idea is that it should be easy to identify important sustainability issues and compare how different products meet the requirements. Products are scored in six areas which have a key impact on sustainability, so that customers can see exactly which criteria they do, or do not, fulfil.

Kinnarps will launch the Better Effect Index in mid-September, with a scored rating for around 20 of their key products. They aim to add their entire product range in due course. The index works by scoring an individual product’s performance in these six areas:

Raw materials and resources: Knowing about the origin of all the components of a product; where they came from and how they were produced.

Climate: The choice of materials, the production methods and the transportation used to create and deliver the product will all affect its climate impact.

Pure materials: Furniture may contain or emit substances that are hazardous to health. By using as pure materials as possible, this risk is minimised with the resulting benefit of a healthier workplace and workforce.

Social Responsibility: In what circumstances are components manufactured or sourced? How socially conscious are suppliers and what conditions do workers enjoy? Particularly in developing countries.

Reuse: Extending the lifespan of a product, improving its durability and making it easy to refurbish or upgrade will all help prolong the need to buy new and to discard old products. And when the time comes to make it redundant, how easy can it be broken down for recycling?

Ergonomics: The effect of good ergonomics is healthier employees, better well-being and more attractive places to work. Efficiencies are improved and the business becomes a more sustainable model.

Having developed the Kinnarps annual environmental publication, called The Better Effect Report, Johanna is now keen to widen the message of how choosing a well thought-out, responsibly designed product, which uses pure materials, starts a positive chain reaction.

“This is important,” said Johanna. “We report not only our good products but also our shortcomings. By being open about what we do, we give the industry opportunities to cooperate in sustainability issues. If we have a shared sustainability agenda, together we can make it easier for the customer to make better sustainability choices.”

Johanna has been nominated by the monthly environmental and business magazine Aktuell Hållbarhet as one of Sweden’s 33 sustainability talents under the age of 33. She considers her role at Kinnarps as pivotal to a better future for all.


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