There is no denying it: Our planet is in trouble. Our global economy is based on pulling resources out of the Earth, using energy to make something, consuming it and then discarding it. It’s a tension that touches everyone, including makers like Steelcase and its customers. With every purchasing decision, companies are looking to make better choices. Recognizing how manufacturing contributes to the problem allows Steelcase to see how they can be part of the collective solution. That’s why Steelcase has partnered with service providers to provide landfill alternatives for old products and why they have set ambitious goals to improve its impact on climate now and in the future. In the process, they are finding new ways to help customers reach their own sustainability goals.
“We know leading organizations want to reduce their carbon footprint right now. So while we continue to work on mitigating our own emissions, we are also creating ways to help our customers meet their own carbon neutrality goals,” says Mary Ellen Mika, director of sustainability for Steelcase.
Steelcase started with its most popular work chairs, Steelcase Series 1, certifying it as a CarbonNeutral product in 2022. Now they’ve widened the CarbonNeutral product certification option in the Americas to work chairs: Gesture, Leap, Steelcase Karman, Think, Amia, Steelcase Series 2 and Steelcase Series 1. This rigorous standard provides all the same essential ergonomics and quality while offsetting the carbon impact of the chair.
A Holistic Approach
Steelcase was one of the first in the industry to achieve carbon neutrality in 2020–and is on track to reduce its absolute emissions 50% by 2030–a bold goal verified by the Science Based Targets initiative, a leading organization that guides companies who want to reduce emissions in a way that will prevent the worst effects of climate change. Steelcase makes products that last so they can be reused, repaired or ultimately recycled and designs products that use less materials and more recycled content. It was an early pioneer, designing the Think Chair in 2004 with fewer parts and pieces that could be easily disassembled for recycling using a simple hand tool.
“Our goal is always to create products with the smallest carbon footprint possible. Then, we finance projects that make up for the carbon we are unable to eliminate through the product’s entire lifecycle,” says Mika. “Those projects make a real difference to improve our planet and the wellbeing of people on it. They include efforts to support renewable energy, pristine woodlands and waterways, electric rail systems in India and efficient cookstoves in Africa.”
Offering more carbon neutral seating allows customers to make similar investments to complement their work to reduce emissions. Steelcase works with Climate Impact Partners to identify these high-impact, verified environmentally-sustainable projects. Climate Impact Partners originally established a carbon neutral protocol in 2002 and are the founding members of the International Carbon Reduction and Offset Alliance. Every purchase of high-performance seating with CarbonNeutral product certification offsets product emissions by supporting verified efforts that mitigate climate change and deliver social impact.
In the coming year, Steelcase is deepening its commitment to sustainable design while also offering more carbon neutral products for its customers. The company is setting updated, robust goals to increase measurement, transparency and the ability to scale sustainable product design across the organization. It’s a commitment that extends beyond Steelcase to produce a ripple effect that amplifies sustainability efforts.
“We remain committed to improving our practices, working in collaboration with industry partners, experts, stakeholders and suppliers,” says Mika. “By working together and leveraging our collective resources, we can lead the way in addressing the climate crisis, inspiring positive change, and creating a better world for future generations.”
The CarbonNeutral product certified high-performance chairs are available to order now in the Americas with some models expanding availability in Europe and Asia Pacific soon.
Interested in helping the world work better? Learn more about which chair is right for you.