Q&A: SUSTAINABILITY LEADERS – Silentnight
Following on from our previous Sustainability Q&A Articles, Design Insider is thrilled to welcome David Lawrenson, Hospitality Sales Director at Silentnight Group. We asked David about how Silentnight address sustainability through their material selection, production and logistics, as well as what is the next step for Silentnight to meet their sustainability targets.
Please could you introduce Silentnight to our readers?
Silentnight Group is the home of the most trusted sleep brands in the bed industry, including Silentnight Beds, the UKs leading sleep brand and Sealy, the biggest bed brand in the world. We have been providing sleep solutions for the hospitality and contract market for several decades via our licence agreements with Sealy, and Serta, one of the world’s leading hospitality sleep providers.
When did you first begin to address sustainability within your business?
As a leader in the bed industry, we’re dedicated to having a positive impact on our planet – changing the environment and lives around us for the better. Sustainability has been in our thoughts as a business for well over 10 years now. We were the first bed company to be accredited under the Furniture Industry Sustainability Programme (FISP) – which aims to improve the furniture industry’s sustainability credentials. From this, our passion has grown so that sustainability is always at the forefront of everything that we do, whether it is new product development, manufacturing efficiency or minimising company miles. Looking after the planet is the responsibility of us all, and we’re proud to play our part which is why we were also very proud to comply with the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) – a government-led energy assessment scheme that requires us to audit the energy-use on all of our buildings to improve external conditions for people and wildlife and this approach has helped us to achieve our Carbon Neutral status. By being Carbon Neutral, this means that for every gram per kilometre (g/km) of carbon dioxide we emit it is offset by the amount of carbon we save through renewable energy projects and energy efficiency projects. This way, we put back-into our environment what we’ve taken away.
Sustainability is a key focus across your business, why is this so important?
Beds and mattresses are big and bulky items that can be resource hungry. Whilst we have a responsibility to give our clients and customers a great sleep experience, we also need to ensure that we are doing so in a way that our children can enjoy our planet long after we are gone. It is very easy to compromise on fillings when making a mattress which can mislead the end user or have a hugely negative impact on our environment. We do not want to do either of those things which is why we are very proud of our vision to be the home of the most trusted sleep brands so that our customers can be safe in the knowledge that we are responsible in everything that we do.
In what ways have you addressed the sustainability of your material selection?
We fully audit the process of sourcing our raw materials to ensure that we do so in a sustainable manner. We were the first bed company to be accredited under the Furniture Industry Sustainability Programme (FISP) – which aims to improve the furniture industry’s sustainability credentials. When you buy from a Silentnight Group brand, you can do so in the complete confidence that the materials used have been replenished in an environmentally-friendly way.
For instance, we have been officially certified by the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) which ensures that the timber or fibre used in the divans and headboards comes from responsible sources, where trees harvested are replaced or allowed to regenerate naturally. Also, all the materials we use conform to Oeko-Tex and REACH testing – independent research institutes that ensure the chemicals we use are safe to both humans and the environment.
Regarding our eco-friendly mattresses, we’ve managed to prevent over 105 million plastic bottles from entering the sea through intelligent recycling methods to produce beautifully comfortable mattresses and this is a great example of how a sustainable approach can improve the sleep experience of our customers.
When it comes to the by-products of our manufacturing process, we can confidently state that we recycle an incredible 90% of the waste produced across our sites for a more efficient, resourceful and responsible manufacturing process. To ensure that we meet our objectives and divert waste from landfills, all of our wood, paper and card, polythene film and metal waste go to local and national recycling companies.
In what ways have you addressed the sustainability of your production processes?
The production process is a very important part of our sustainability focus; we have a dedicated cross-functional team looking at how we can reduce our energy consumption and introduce sustainable practices throughout our factories and our showrooms. We’ve fitted power management systems to all of major machinery, including our compressors, which monitor the power usage so we never use more power than is required. LED lighting has been installed throughout the entire factory, offices and warehouses and we have fitted a BioLPG tank so the gas we use on site for our forklift trucks is both renewable and sustainable. We have also introduced a new policy that means the gas and electric used at all of our sites, must be generated from 100% renewable energy schemes accredited by OFGEM.
Have you also considered the environmental impact of your logistics?
Yes, very much so, we save an incredible 100,000 litres of diesel per year through an intelligent fleet management tool, called Job Watch – which increases our vehicle and journey efficiency and improves road safety.
We also encourage our company car drivers to use electric and hybrid options. I now use a Hybrid car and when technology allows, I and my colleagues, will be moving over to fully electric cars.
Could you tell me about the awards you have achieved for your sustainable approach?
We are incredibly proud to have been awarded the Furniture Makers’ Company Sustainability Award for 2017 and then again in 2018 to become the first company ever to receive the award twice. We’re delighted that our commitment to social, economic and environmental sustainability has been recognised by this prestigious independent award. Through eco-friendly product development, progressive work practices and our partnership with the Marine Conservation Society, we’re helping our world become a greener and happier place to live and work.
Has the current pandemic impacted on the progress you have been making?
It has, although it has also helped us to understand the areas that we can improve on too. Working from home and saving on business travel miles is seen as a real environmental benefit thanks to the new world of video calls and whilst nothing will ever beat face to face contact, the new ‘normal’ means that we will need to be much more careful when doing so.
What is your next step?
We mentioned about 90% of our waste being recycled, well we want, or rather need, to be at 100%.
It is very easy to make greenwashing statements nowadays but at Silentnight Group, we very much want to be able to demonstrate that everything we talk about we also do it by living and breathing it. If someone were to visit our sites then they would see for themselves that everyone in the business understands the actions we take to be a responsible member of our environment.
From a New Product Development point of view, sustainability has really driven some innovative new thinking and ideas that we are looking to launch later in 2020 – so watch this space!
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