Sep 02, 2021

Herman Miller's supply chain uses recycled plastic

Sustainability
HermanMiller
Supplychain
RecycledPlastic
Helen Adams
3 min
ocean plastic
In its sustainable supply chain, Herman Miller uses ocean-bound plastic to create furniture - as well as jobs

Products and packaging solutions within The Aeron Chair Portfolio from Herman Miller will incorporate mismanaged plastic waste as part of the company’s commitment to use 50% recycled content in all materials by 2030.

Furniture giant Herman Miller has a revenue of $2bn and is headquartered in Zeeland, USA. 

 

Herman Miller’s sustainable supply chain uses ocean-bound plastic in furniture

Herman Miller’s entire portfolio of Aeron Chairs will contain ocean-bound plastic. Each chair will contain up to 1.13 kg of mismanaged plastic waste, found near waterways.

These material changes in the Aeron Portfolio are projected to save the ocean from over 136 tonnes of plastic annually – equal to 15mn single-use plastic water bottles.

The updates are part of Herman Miller’s membership in NextWave Plastics, its ongoing commitment to sustainability, and its long-term goal to increase recycled content to at least 50% including the use of ocean-bound plastic across all material the company uses by 2030.

When plastic waste builds up in coastal cities, suppliers work with local pickers to collect the plastic. Once collected, the material is ground, washed and pelletised. 

From there, it is sold to manufacturers who test and re-engineer the plastic to incorporate into products.

 

The recycled plastic supply chain creates jobs and supports the economy 

The company is also reducing its footprint by adding ocean-bound plastic to returnable shipping crates that send seating parts to and from suppliers and poly bags used to keep products safe during transit.

“Every year, an estimated eight million tons of plastic enter the ocean. This is roughly equivalent to dumping a garbage truck full of plastic into the ocean every minute”, said Gabe Wing, Herman Miller’s Director of Sustainability. “We joined NextWave to play an active role in taking on the ocean plastic problem and cast a wide net for opportunities to incorporate ocean-bound plastic across our global operations. We’re proud of the progress we’ve already made with packaging and textiles and are eager to continue doing our part in preventing harmful plastic from reaching our oceans by adding it to the iconic Aeron Chair.”

By integrating ocean-bound plastic into all of these products and packaging solutions, Herman Miller estimates to divert up to 234 tonnes of plastic from the ocean annually.

“On our current trajectory we are at risk of tripling the rate of new plastic entering the ocean every year. A critical strategy to disrupt that path is to demonstrate the value of ocean-bound plastic. In bringing the Aeron Chair made with ocean-bound plastic to market, Herman Miller is not only proving the commercial value of the material, but showcasing the power of collective action in developing ocean-bound plastic supply chains,” said Dune Ives, CEO of Lonely Whale. “Herman Miller, and all members of the NextWave Plastics consortium, are taking the necessary action – today – to make a positive impact for the ocean and for us all.”

The plastic used in Aeron is currently sourced from India and Indonesia, which are two of many locations where Herman Miller and other NextWave member companies are creating demand and establishing a supply chain for this material. 

By sourcing ocean-bound plastic from these areas, the companies are making both economic and social impact by supporting local communities and employing individuals who make a living collecting mismanaged waste near the shoreline.

“We’re doing more than making an environmental impact,” said Bob Teasley, Director of Supply Management at Herman Miller. “By working with coastal communities around the world to harvest ocean-bound plastic, we’re increasing demand, creating jobs and boosting economies.”

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