Steelcase Advances Toward Goal to Shrink Global Footprint 25 Percent

Steelcase Advances Toward Goal to Shrink Global Footprint 25 Percent

Steelcase’s latest corporate responsibility report charts the firm’s progress toward the company’s goal of reducing its global environmental footprint 25 percent by 2012, its 100th anniversary.

Highlights include reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 49 percent, water consumption by 64 percent, waste by 71 percent and volatile organic compound emissions by 95 percent -- all since 2001.

The company attributed some of those achievements to thinking outside the box, in some cases literally.

Efficiency measures in packaging include forgoing cartons as much as possible and opting for reusable blanket wraps to encase goods shipped in North America. The company also uses returnable containers, including lightweight reusable and 100 percent-recyclable polypropylene pallets.

In 2008, such efforts helped cut packaging consumption by 390,000 pounds (about 30 percent), slash packaging costs by about $2 million in North America, reduce space needed for transport by 50 percent and trim handling time in half.

The key to the company's sustainability practices -- and its design strategy -- lies in its approach, Angela Nahikian Steelcase’s Director of Global Environmental Sustainability told in an interview earlier this spring.

The company views sustainability as “the ultimate systems design problem,” one that requires solutions to balance and integrate social, environmental and business considerations, she said.