Playing our part to save the planet

Malcolm Scott,the KBSA corporate chair, spells out what major manufacturers in the KBB and electrical industries are doing to cut down on emissions, energy usage and waste to improve their sustainability.

Across everything we do, the issue of sustainability has become much more topical. With the rise in climate change awareness, the question now being asked is, are we meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs? 

The new energy labelling on domestic appliances is a very visible sign that sustainability is impacting the kitchen channel and will continue to do so. Manufacturers have been set very onerous targets to redesign appliances to become ever more energy-efficient. 

The new scheme is much more user-friendly, giving consumers very clear guidance about sustainability. Labels now cover much more than just energy. On dishwashers and laundry, water use per cycle is highlighted to drive down water use. Innovation is driving efficiency with manufacturers developing highly efficient heat-pump technology to recycle heat within appliances and reduce overall energy use. Low energy lighting on all appliances has become standard. Alongside this, ever tighter packaging and waste disposal measures and WEEE ‘end-of-life’ recycling schemes are reducing the carbon footprint of our industry. 

The Ikea ‘buy back’ initiative introduces recycling into mainstream retailing with consumers encouraged to sell items of used Ikea furniture that are still in good condition when buying new items from Ikea. This may be a little ‘gimmicky’, but it sets a trend that others will follow. 

Carbon reduction

KBSA members have been working with second-hand kitchen specialist businesses for some time to encourage reuse of ex-display kitchens and the like. Larger manufacturers, like Symphony Furniture, have been working hard to reduce carbon emissions within their operations, Symphony has reduced emissions across its whole business by over 27% in recent years and is working towards a target of using 100% ‘green energy’ throughout the business by 2028.

Many other leading kitchen industry manufacturers are working within the framework of the United Nations 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Whirlpool Group has a ‘no place for waste’ policy across its whole business, which seeks to improve efficiency throughout the business. In the past 15 years, it has reduced emissions across the business by 60%. The Franke 2019 Group Sustainability Report, states that within the group, carbon emissions were reduced by 10.1% during that year. Alongside a policy of building ‘on-site’ renewable energy resources, BSH Group has a global long-term target of reducing carbon emissions by a further 15%. Electrolux Group has managed to cut carbon emissions across its global business by 70% since 2015 and continues to push for further reductions. In 2018, Cosentino increased its use of recycled water across its operations by 53%, is now recycling over 30% of its own waste and reduced carbon emissions by 7%. Clearly, manufacturers are working hard to attain sustainability.

B&Q has managed to achieve a carbon output reduction of 31% since 2016. Ikea has embarked on a programme of making spare parts more readily available to its customers, so that furniture can be regularly repaired to prolong its useful life, alongside a carbon emission reduction programme that has reduced its emissions by 15.5% over four years. 

Wren has a consumer carbon emission calculator on its website to enable its customers to work out how they can reduce their personal carbon footprint, alongside very detailed guidance on the carbon emissions generated by a standard domestic kitchen to show consumers which appliances produce the most CO2.

By designing kitchens that have improved food storage, designers can do their bit as food waste is a major contributor to global emissions. More efficient use of refrigeration and storage could reduce the need for landfill sites and for supply chain shipping. 

The kitchen industry is working to improve sustainability and considerable progress has already been made. 

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