Sleep brands have a crucial role to play in the industry’s drive to net zero, writes Silentnight’s ESG director, Angela Moran, as she shares the bedmaker’s own progressive approaches …
The road to net zero will be one filled with bumps and potholes, for both sleep brands and the wider furniture industry. The global mattress market is expected to grow at an annual rate of +6.2% over the seven years, according to California-based market research and consulting firm Grand View Research. And, with that growth, comes a greater responsibility for sleep brands to ensure they maintain their net-zero journeys.
While their products and marketing are often modern and innovative in their consumer-facing form, behind the scenes it’s often a case of using complex supply chains and sticking with tried-and-tested manufacturing methods to produce them. Those taking their sustainability responsibilities seriously will recognise the need to change that.
But ambition and action are two different things – you’d be hard-pressed to find a brand that says they don’t want to reach net zero, but those taking meaningful decisions today to affect tomorrow are more difficult to identify.
At Silentnight, we believe in boldness, and that’s why we were the first sleep brand to commit to being net zero by 2040 – 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement.
But we’re not going to achieve that easily. For a starter, we thought a framework of principles to follow would be essential in focusing minds and ensuring we remain committed to our ambitions.
First, we believe transparency is key. That’s why we’ve committed to a timeframe for hitting net zero and are committed to developing an eco-design toolkit with the National Bed Federation (NBF), and product passports to track our ecological footprint.
We’ve already made strides on our net-zero journey by reducing our direct carbon emissions by -49% and transitioning our delivery fleets to the use of 100% renewable energy.
We’ll also be investing in training and educating our staff on all things sustainability focused, both internally and externally, though Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, which have allowed us to partner with universities to deliver innovative projects and initiatives inspired by graduates. In time, this will ensure we’re competent in delivering our products, developing new technologies and offering advice to our partners, suppliers, customers and peers within the industry.
We’re also building resilience into our operations by acting ahead of a fast-changing regulatory landscape and taking in feedback from all of our stakeholders on how we can improve.
Finally, we’re working to transform our business away from one focused on compliance to bring efficiency front of mind, ensuring we’re a true driver for innovation and growth.
Following these principles will keep us focused on our end goals – but we’re also committed to more immediate actions in the next few years too. These will be of benefit to the whole industry, not just us.
So, that’s why we’re moving away from simple certifications like carbon neutral, towards a ‘carbon handprint’ model, which will allow us to decrease other business’ carbon footprint by sharing our expertise and providing sustainable solutions for product development.
We’re also working to develop stronger industry coalitions to tackle the sustainability challenges of today, because supply chains will be difficult to decarbonise in silo.
Finally, we think people will be crucial to a more sustainable future. We’ll be investing in our colleagues to ensure we become a Carbon Literate Organisation, and using Materiality Assessment and B Corporation Impact Assessment (BIA) frameworks to develop our longer-term strategy.
All considered, we think taking these steps will make us a more sustainable business and will provide a blueprint for others to follow, which will be of benefit to those in the industry aiming to reduce their carbon output.
We’re not there yet – neither our brand, industry, nor country is – and the road to 2040 will be fraught with challenges. But collaboration, boldness in action and education will prove to be the key drivers on the net-zero journey.