Danish furniture industry is known for its excellent design, where form and function combine in a higher unity. Many Danish furniture companies – both manufacturers and retailers – are generally quite advanced in the process of formulating policies and implementing CSR initiatives. The furniture industry in Denmark comprises about 225 companies, which in 2011 had a total revenue of approx. DKK 12 billion. Of this revenue, more than 90 percent came from exports. The industry employs approx. 9,500 people in Denmark.
For many years, Danish furniture manufacturers have been characterised by the ability to rapidly adapt to the market; therefore, they reacted quickly and proactively to demands regarding the use of environmentally-friendly production methods, sustainable materials and safe working conditions. Many of the companies today strive to take the utmost account of the environment, sustainability and social rights, while making CSR demands on their suppliers and other business partners. The Danish furniture companies that profile themselves in the areas of environment and CSR are very careful to ensure the ability to document their CSR efforts in the form of certifications and supplier declarations. Many Danish furniture companies own their production facilities abroad, particularly in the Far East. Here they are very conscious of producing under suitable conditions and typically implement Danish standards for e.g. health and safety, even though the local requirements are not as strict.
The Association of Danish Furniture + Interior supports the companies’ CSR efforts by holding member meetings on CSR related topics and by preparing tools such as the manual “From words to action”, a practical guide for furniture companies to implement social responsibility in relation to the environment, labour conditions and product brands.
World view on CSR and furniture
Globally, the furniture industry faces two main challenges in the area of CSR. The first is in relation to its materials. The main problem here is wood from unsustainable forestry and illegal logging. At the same time, it can be difficult to trace the materials back through the supply chain. Second are the working and environmental conditions, where there may be problems with monitoring conditions at supplier facilities in low-wage countries. In addition, the industry has a role in explaining to customers and consumers that furniture produced according to the high standards will typically cost more than furniture produced without regard to these standards. This is a challenging task, as consumers are largely unaware or unconcerned with the serious problems that form the basis for the industry’s sustainability and CSR efforts.