Q&A Sustainability Leaders – Astro Lighting

Astro Lighting is one of the world’s leading lighting brands, designing and producing contemporary luminaires for luxury hospitality, residential and commercial spaces across the globe. We spoke to Rachel Bartlett, Sustainability Expert at Astro Lighting about how they address sustainability in their business.

When did you first begin to address sustainability within your business?
Astro has always been founded on the principle of being a responsible business. We took this a step further in 2016 and officially launched our Corporate Social Responsibility programme, which saw us establish community engagement, wellbeing in the workplace and environmental improvement programmes across the business. In January 2020, we evaluated our approach and decided to re-focus our efforts by moving to a much broader Sustainability strategy, ensuring that all functions across the business take responsibility and accountability for how their policies, processes and procedures impact on our three core pillars of Planet, People and Product.

Sustainability is a key focus across your business, why is this so important?
Sustainability is not simply a passing ‘trend’ or something to focus on for a short period of time, we believe it needs to just be the way you do business. Focusing on more than just our financial performance is the right and only way for us to operate, in order to be successful for many years to come. It is easy for business to focus on single elements of Sustainability in isolation without considering their wider implications on society and the environment.

In what ways have you addressed sustainability within your organisation?
We have gradually been making improvements throughout our value chain in order to minimise any detrimental influences we may cause on society and the environment. For example, we have transformed our packaging so that all new products are now free from polystyrene, and instead are held securely in an origami-style, recycled cardboard inner fitment, which is bespoke to each and every product.

We have also invested in a Product Life Cycle Assessment tool (LCA) which our product development team are using to monitor the complete lifecycle of our products (design, in use, transportation and end of life) and what impact each stage has on carbon emissions, energy consumption, water eutrophication and air acidification. With this information, we will be able to set ourselves targets to improve our environmental performance. Another key project we have undertaken this year was to calculate the carbon footprint of our headquarters in Harlow, Essex. To start reducing the emissions we are creating, we have installed over 460 solar panels across the roof of the building which generate the same amount of energy that we consume.

We also have a series of internal initiatives taking place including our recent Astro Green Week, where we engaged and encouraged our employees and partners to pledge to become more sustainable. From going paperless to supporting local communities with litter collection and recycling, we had participation from our employees all across the globe.

Has the current pandemic impacted on the progress you have been making?
The pandemic has further emphasized the importance of being a responsible and sustainable business. It has been all too evident to see which brands really ‘walk the walk’ and stick by their values when times get tough. We’ve ensured that we continue to make progress across our Sustainability strategy, using this time to analyse our current performance and set realistic yet ambitious targets that we can work towards, in line with the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals.

What is your next step?
As we are only at the start of our Sustainability journey, there is lots to do. Just a couple of examples of the immediate projects that we are working on include reducing the number of components that we use within our products, as well as working towards a ‘zero to landfill’ policy at our Harlow headquarters.

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About Alys Bryan

Alys' experience as a furniture designer, along with her in-depth marketing knowledge, makes her uniquely placed to work with the BCFA as the Editor of Design Insider and run her marketing business, Method Communications.
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