The Furniture Industry Research Association’s latest publication, Guide to Alternative Packaging and Sustainability, has now been published. The guide explores current packaging utilised by many across the furniture sector, before moving on to examine alternative packaging materials.

The Government is placing a stronger focus on the environment and sustainability through policy and long-term plans, alongside an exsiting emphasis on packaging and recycling. While there is much attention being placed on the impact of food packaging, states the association, many of the strategies being developed will potentially impact the whole supply chain, and the furniture industry will need to address current compliance and prepare for the future legislative changes.

Author John Hubbard, technical consultant at FIRA International (the service provider to the Furniture Industry Research Association), says: “The topic of packaging was chosen as the latest focus for the research association as it affects almost the entire membership base across the furniture chain. Manufacturers, retailers, importers and suppliers all face the issue, often in the face of increased environmental scrutiny.

“There is a balance to be met - furniture items are large and often irregularly shaped but must reach the customer in a pristine condition in order to avoid damage and complaints, but achieving this can involve high use of cushioning materials, plastics and outer wrapping. All of this must be taken into account with the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007, which state an individual organisation’s recycling target.

"This regulation is enforced – in 2019, fines totalling £236,000 were issued by the Environment Agency to organisations for failing to register, and failing to take reasonable steps to recover and recycle packaging waste. The record fine under the regulation was handed to Red Bull in 2009 and totalled £271,800. With this in mind I would urge all across the furniture industry to check their credentials and policies, and I hope that details within the guide will support them in doing so.”

The guide is available to members of the research association here, and non-members can purchase a copy through the same link.