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Flexsteel Achieves Sustainable by Design Designation

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Flexsteel Industries has achieved Sustainable by Design registration, awarded by the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) for the company’s continued environmental achievements.

To enter AHFA’s Sustainable by Design program, Flexsteel first had to implement an environmental management program known as EFEC in all of its domestic facilities, which include a plant and corporate office in Dubuque, Iowa, as well as plants in Riverside, Calif., Dublin, Ga., and Harrison, Ark.

In addition, Flexsteel implemented EFEC within its contract division, which has a commercial seating factory in Starkville, Miss., and within its DMI subsidiary, which includes a corporate office in Louisville, Ky., and a warehouse in Huntingburg, Ind. It was the largest number of separate facilities to complete the EFEC program simultaneously.

Implementing EFEC satisfies the first requirement of Sustainable by Design: reducing the company’s domestic environmental footprint and establishing systems for continual improvement.

“EFEC sets the course for a company’s environmental journey, because it works to change the culture within a company, from the factory floor to the executive suite,” explains Bill Perdue, AHFA’s vice president of regulatory affairs. “Sustainable by Design takes EFEC’s culture of environmental stewardship and extends it throughout a company’s global supply chain.”

For each key area on a checklist, Flexsteel established goals and a system for evaluating annual achievement. These key areas included:

Supply chain management, including assisting suppliers worldwide in the development and implementation of sustainability programs;

  • Using eco-friendly materials, including low VOC/low HAP coatings, certified lumber and low-emitting UF resins;
  • Global climate impact, including calculating a baseline carbon footprint;
  • Social responsibility, including establishing policies that define the company’s commitment to workers’ rights and community relations in all areas of the world where Flexsteel does business.

“Flexsteel’s greatest improvement as a result of implementing EFEC was developing the structure to document waste streams, to educate our associates and to plant the seeds of cultural change,” says Pat Crahan, senior vice president of Flexsteel’s commercial seating division and director of corporate environmental initiatives. “Now, through the Sustainable by Design program, sustainable business practices are being extended to several different disciplines, including fleet operations, fabric engineering, administrative services and supply chain management.”

Crahan notes that Flexsteel now has the tools necessary to reduce its carbon footprint as it continues to improve recycling and further reduce its waste production.

“Each division has an active and effective EFEC team for local follow up of our environmental management system,” he says. “It’s all about the people … and the earth.”
Flexsteel and DMI join a growing list of furniture manufacturers that have achieved the Sustainable by Design designation, including C.R. Laine, Kincaid Furniture, American Drew, Lea Industries, Hickory Chair and Century Furniture.

In addition, Flexsteel was one of three finalists in last year’s Sage Award competition, an awards program co-sponsored by AHFA and Cargill’s BiOH polyols business unit to recognize environmental leaders in the residential furniture industry. The Sage judges, which include sustainability experts both inside and outside the furniture industry, gave Flexsteel high marks for the detail with which it is tracking its environmental improvements.

Flexsteel’s Starkville, Miss., plant has the further distinction of achieving membership in Mississippi’s enHance Stewardship program developed by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. The enHance program recognizes companies within the state that have made a commitment to addressing and achieving ongoing environmental improvements.

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