Alan Spencer on Siren Furnishings’s FSC journey

In July’s problem, Furnishings Information checked out how producers are working with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the best-recognised mark of sustainable forestry amongst customers looking for extra responsibly-made furnishings. Right here, Siren Furnishings’s high quality and technical director, Alan Spencer, shares his experiences …

Please define your FSC journey to this point …

We gained FSC certification in 2017, although had been making aware efforts to realize certification since 2012. We provide and solely develop product for among the UK’s largest retailers, together with John Lewis, who have been appointed as a furnishings provider for the London Olympic Video games Athlete Village in 2012. We have been required to produce product that was crafted from FSC-certified timber, so so as to meet buyer calls for, we labored carefully with the producer to establish new sources of timber from verified sources.

This was the important thing driving drive to shift focus in direction of FSC certification, and since then we have now been working with suppliers in direction of reaching FSC accreditation. For each new vary or product we develop, we stipulate that timber must be FSC licensed, and work with particular person factories to undergo certification. By way of rising and creating our product collections, this enabled Siren to efficiently endure the audit, putting us ready to make sure confidence in claims on merchandise for our retail prospects.

In the end we have now invested time and useful resource to hint, danger assess, and mitigate dangers in our timber provide chains. FSC helps assist this, because it helps with tracing the timber we use, the place it comes from, and the way ethically it has been sourced. It offers us some assurance that if we are able to hint timber, through full chain of custody, again to the forests, we may be moderately assured that forests are being managed appropriately, and points, resembling lowering deforestation, are being supported.

We’ve labored carefully with our prospects to re-source supplies and establish traceable and licensed timber sources. We evaluate these sources regularly to make sure FSC traceability is maintained. Now we have been doing this work from the attitude of moral sourcing, however the subsequent stage is making this work seen to our prospects. We’re subsequently excited to be shifting in direction of including FSC product claims in order that prospects may be assured of, and our companions can sign, the moral credentials of our timber sourcing.

On high of that, in our dedication to stick to FSC certification, we consciously supply from suppliers that endure SMETA audits to make sure secure and accountable working situations.

The place does your relationship with the FSC stand in the present day? Have your provides been affected by the Russia/Ukraine battle?

We stay dedicated to FSC and preserve our certification with an annual audit. Timber provide chains have confronted quite a few difficulties over latest years. Happily, all the stable wooden in our merchandise (resembling beech, pine and oak) are sourced from native, FSC-certified, and well-managed forests.

We’re carefully watching our provide chains in Europe although, as some nationwide forestry administration providers have been suspending FSC, in favour of PEFC [the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification]. That is reportedly attributable to rising prices and paperwork. There’s push-back from native companies, however we don’t but know if or how this would possibly have an effect on us. We are going to proceed to watch the state of affairs, and work with our suppliers in order that we’re ready and may re-source supplies, ought to the necessity come up.

Manufactured board merchandise (resembling plywood and chipboard) are extra complicated. Earlier than the battle in Ukraine, a considerable amount of board merchandise on the EU market would come from or include timber sourced from Russia and Belarus, however sanctions have stopped this.

Together with the business as a complete, the elevated prices for power and wage pressures have resulted in important value rises. Now we have been exploring different alternatives, together with UK-produced board that we are able to export by sea container to assist minimise the rise in carbon footprint. We stay devoted to sourcing supplies as near the producers as potential, offered it’s from licensed and well-managed forests. This advantages the native economies round the place our factories are based mostly, and retains transport and potential delays to a minimal.

For Siren, a priority when re-sourcing any supplies, is the elevated carbon footprint. Now we have seen the variety of presents for board supplies from Asia improve in latest months. Nevertheless, while you look carefully, very often the log used has been shipped in from Europe or South America which, in flip, will increase the complexity of the timber provide chain – notably for product that’s throughout the scope of EUTR [European Union Timber Regulation] and UKTR (UK Timber Regulation) – and can be more likely to have a a lot greater carbon footprint. In consequence, we’re at the moment exploring different sources nearer to residence, to assist alleviate a few of thesepressures.

Which of your ranges are licensed, and the way are they performing?

A lot of our ranges are FSC licensed, which is more and more changing into a minimal requirement by most retailers and so has confirmed helpful in sustaining and constructing new buyer relationships.

How easy is working with the FSC and promoting on the advantages?

We work with The Soil Affiliation for our certification. FSC is, understandably, very protecting of its model and, the place potential, we have now helped assist a few of our suppliers to achieve and/or retain FSC-certification (notably smaller, unbiased suppliers, slightly than merely shifting to an even bigger provider).

The place do you see demand for FSC-certified furnishings going sooner or later?

From our expertise, FSC is a requirement of most of the bigger retail teams, however we stay devoted to rising consciousness not simply of the FSC brand, however what it’s making an attempt to realize, to all of our prospects.

Prospects are additionally now beneath a price of residing disaster, and the welfare of merchandise isn’t all the time a high concern, however we preserve our dedication to FSC certification. There’s rising consciousness round international warming and the atmosphere, and as a part of Siren’s mission, we’re dedicated to sourcing responsibly, and that includes taking our high quality, compliance and ethics severely. We’re taking aware steps in all areas of the provision chain, and our ambition is to take a stronger lead in pushing ahead a extra ethically minded and sustainable furnishings within the market.

Learn extra about working with the FSC in July’s Furnishings Information.