Minimising our environmental footprint continues to be our top priority
We all leave an environmental footprint. This sustainability indicator expresses the amount of space needed by an individual to cover their own resource requirements. One thing’s clear – the footprint we live on is too big. At the moment we would need an area 1.7 times the size of the Earth to maintain our current lifestyle. Changing this should be the goal of all people - and businesses - in the industrialised world.
What can we do as a company to improve our ecological footprint? And how can we offer our customers products that they can buy with a clear ecological conscience because they optimise their own sustainability balance? The "Furniture Made in Germany", European LEVEL and Blue Angel certifications recently awarded to König + Neurath products point to a way forward, which we asked our sustainability expert Johannes Brennig to explain in more detail. We wanted to learn even more about König + Neurath's environmental and efficiency activities.
What are we doing to achieve a smaller environmental footprint? And when did we start?
Johannes Brennig: Essentially sustainability has been an aspect of our corporate philosophy since the very early days. The König family has always been known for its farsightedness and a good sense for innovations. As a family man, Egon König's wish was naturally to leave his descendants not only a profitable company but also an intact environment. That is why König + Neurath was one of the founding members of the Hesse Environmental Alliance in 2000 and built the largest photovoltaic plant in Hesse at the time in the same year.
What sustainability activities at König + Neurath make you particularly proud?
Johannes Brennig: In 1996 we introduced an environmental management system that has been certified in accordance with DIN EN ISO 14001 since 1998. Then in 2015 our energy management system was certified in line with DIN EN ISO 50001 as well. As well as that, we became a member of the UN Global Compact in 2016, a worldwide initiative to foster corporate responsibility.
What’s the concrete situation with regard to product sustainability?
Johannes Brennig: The majority of our products hold multiple certificates. In this context the most important and best-known eco label in Germany is the Blue Angel. Furthermore all the materials we use are subject to TÜV testing to measure hazardous substances and emissions. OWe also attach great importance to certifications such as“Geprüfte Sicherheit”, ergonomics tests and “Quality Office”.
Why have we recently been awarded the Blue Angel?
Johannes Brennig: Because it is very well known, highly regarded and widespread in our industry. The criteria are developed by the Federal Environment Agency, so they come from a neutral agency. We use the certification for our product areas office furniture and seating furniture because we know that it is often relevant for tenders. The criteria are then regularly reviewed and adapted to current developments.
König + Neurath’s latest award is the “Möbel Made in Germany” label – what does that mean for the company?
Johannes Brennig: Products from Germany enjoy a high reputation. In a global study from 2016/17, "Made in Germany" was identified as the most popular origin label, followed by Switzerland in second place and Made in EU in third place. With the quality label "Furniture Made in Germany", there is now a legal framework for when a product can be declared as "Made in Germany". We are pleased that a large part of our product portfolio has now been certified.
What are the benefits of a production facility that’s based in Germany?
Johannes Brennig: It brings numerous advantages: design, development, production, logistics and quality monitoring all take place locally and from a single source. Our supplier structure is focused on Germany and neighbouring countries, so it is clear that high social standards are adhered to. This minimises material miles and makes communication easier.
What certification is there at an international level?
Johannes Brennig: We recently received the highest possible European LEVEL sustainability standard, LEVEL 3, for most of our products. This allows us a way of measuring and comparing the otherwise rather abstract concept of sustainability.
The importance of the certificate is really important, we are not talking about awards for marketing purposes. Here, all factors of sustainability are put through their paces at product, company and supplier level. For me, the standard is even superior to the requirements of the Blue Angel. That's why we are very proud to have reached the highest level.
Find out more about our other certificates – for example SCS Indoor Advantage Gold, one of the best-known and most widely used emission quality marks in the world – here.