If there is one thing that should go hand in hand with advances in technology and manufacturing, it should be our ability (and willingness) to make products that are safer for the environment. As time progresses, our understanding of how certain chemicals and materials interact with the human body and the earth’s many ecosystems has grown greatly – but that doesn’t mean that businesses have always made the right decision concerning either. At the risk of offering a generalized and oversimplified explanation, one could say that where businesses are concerned, the choice between profit and the environment has historically been not much of a choice at all.
That’s why there’s legislation on the books that is designed to make organizations responsible for not only what they produce but also how they produce it, and how they deal with the generated waste. And while it may have just been a short time ago that a company doing right by the environment may have been a rarity indeed, thanks to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, eco-friendliness is emerging as one of the dominant trends in business.
What is the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (R.C.R.A.)?
Simply put, the R.C.R.A. is a federal law that encourages businesses both big and small to adopt environmentally friendly processes for managing commercial and industrial waste, as well as regulating how a company generates, transports, treats, stores, or disposes of waste and by-products deemed harmful to the environment.
You might not think it, but when it comes to furniture manufacturers, a great many of them generate hazardous waste, through the use of solvents, dyes, paints, and lubricants in their manufacturing processes. The question is then, has the R.C.R.A. had a positive or negative impact on the practice of manufacturing furniture?
Impacts of the R.C.R.A.
To the layman, it is easy to surmise that legislation like the previously mentioned Act has significantly impacted the way furniture manufacturers do business – but it is by no means a negative one. Where firms once purged harmful chemicals into the local water supply with reckless abandon, they are now forced to consider things like source reduction (having to actively alter their operations to reduce the amount of contaminants entering a waste stream) or finding out ways to recycle or reuse materials and chemicals they would otherwise dispose of after only one use. Source reduction alone has encouraged many manufacturers to do the following:
- Change materials (replacing harmful materials used in production is more cost-effective than developing a strategy for dealing with something harmful)
- Reducing inventory – ordering materials on an as needed basis rather than hoarding supplies reduces the amount of chemicals that need to be disposed of (especially concerning components that have a limited shelf life)
These processes, along with developing and implementing other waste minimization strategies do come with a cost – but it seems as though that, for the most part, it’s a price that furniture companies are more than happy to pay. And the reason could be as simple as eco-friendliness sells.
Eco-Friendliness a Dominant Selling Feature in Office Furniture
Whether an office manager is springing for ergonomic office chairs or generously providing new office workstations, there’s no denying that style and function will go a long way in swaying their decision. More and more however, companies (perhaps even yours) are going the extra mile to ensure that what they purchase is not only made with sustainable materials, but also that the company that makes the product does so in a responsible way.
The reason why is simple; many companies have developed their own environmental initiatives and they want to align themselves with suppliers who share their values. Granted, this position isn’t necessarily always an altruistic one; many organizations do in fact leverage their eco-friendliness as a means of generating business or building rapport with their target market.
To be fair, it’s difficult to say that there is anything wrong with that strategy. After all, consumer demand for green products has never been higher. If an organization promotes itself as green, it stands to reason that their office furniture would represent it as well.
To conclude, legislation like the R.C.R.A. has changed the furniture industry; it has helped to weed out those that would not or could not comply with the regulations, and allowed those willing to adapt to the framework to do so.
Light Bulb – pixabay Public Domain
High Back Multi-Tilter – global furniture group
Guest Author Bio
John Berwick may be a Technical Writer by trade, but he enjoys blogging and voicing his opinion on a wide variety of topics more than anything else in the world. He has written for many different sectors including health care, software development, security, marketing, and e-commerce industries.
Visit John’s Site: John Berwick Freelance