As the understanding of sustainability evolves in the contract furniture business, Coalesse is being launched on three important fronts: responsibly harvested woods, better ways of plating metal, and manufacturing for the highest level of durability.
To ensure all new products are socially responsible, Coalesse have engaged the “cradle-to-cradle” design consultancy, MBDC, to advise them and provide third-party analysis of the materials and processes they use to create their products. As Coalesse grows, social responsibility will be an essential part of decision-making, from design to disposal. They believe that success on the environmental front will be built on the accumulation of a multitude of small steps and the occasional big leap. They are starting with a green outlook and they have every intention of growing greener.
The Coalesse policy with wood sourced from outside North America and their approved European partners is that they must be certified by The Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) to ensure these woods have been responsibly harvested from sustainable forests, and that the rights and welfare of workers and local communities are being respected. Through an FSC label, wood can be traced back to its original source of supply.
Chromed steel is a mainstay of the contract furniture industry because it is considered a premium finish with high durability. But depending on the type of chrome processing used, it can have a detrimental impact on human and environmental health. The most common method of chrome plating uses hexavalent chrome, a known carcinogen and considered by MBDC in their color-coded rating system (green, yellow, red), to be a “hard-red” chemical. There are no health hazards associated with chrome once it has been applied, but the hexavalent chrome electroplating process can be hazardous.
Is there an alternative? Coalesse is opting for a safer method of plating and has partnered with a domestic supplier who uses only “trivalent” chrome, a non-carcinogenic form of the metal. Few, if any, metal finishing processes are without environmental challenges, and chrome is no exception. Working with the best technology currently available, Coalesse will continue to seek new and better alternatives.
As the Coalesse collection grows, their intention is to live by the cradle-to-cradle (C2C) philosophy described by MBDC this way: “Instead of designing cradle-to-grave products, dumped in landfills at the end of their ‘life,’ the goal is create products for cradle-tocradle cycles, whose materials are perpetually circulated in closed loops. Maintaining materials in closed loops maximizes material value without damaging ecosystems.” Coalesse has contracted MBDC to audit the materials used in the majority of our existing products, and to advise them as they develop new products. They intend to achieve Cradle to Cradle certification on the highest percentage of products possible.