2020 Sustainability Report

34 Ecology Sometimes when we are advising customers, we recommend that they do not buy new furniture but have their existing furniture renovated. That sounds contradictory, because one would think that a furniture manufacturer like Girsberger earns its living by customers investing in new furniture. However, it is happening increasingly frequently, in fact whenever we believe that the existing furniture is good and worth preserving, so a renovation is worthwhile. This may apply, for example, in the case of concert hall seating, office or restaurant furniture, stackable hall chairs or generally any furniture that is of historical value, or has a classic status. It makes no difference to us who manufactured the furniture originally. What is critical is whether it will retain its value and whether upgrading or restoring it is worthwhile. That is more frequently the case than you might think. It’s simply a question of recognising those cases for which it is worth the effort. For example, we are currently working on an order for a worldwide leading Swiss company which we were able to persuade not simply to dispose of its existing, worn-out office desks, but instead to turn them into compact, easily trans- portable desks for their employees to use when working from home. It is a project where everyone wins. The employer can supply their staff with sensible desks for the increased time they are spending working from home. The employees gain a desk at an affordable price, because the cost is greatly reduced by reusing existing materials. What’s more, resources are saved by giving the old desk a second life, in the spirit of the circular economy. Of course, we could have simply offered the customer suitable new desks for the home office, but that would have been less sustainable. Since we have a business unit specialising in remanufacturing for years, con- verting the existing desks was a project that made economic sense – both for the customer and for Girsberger. We have all become far too accustomed to simply throwing away old furniture. This is partly because furniture has become relatively cheap, compared with the average purchasing power of people in Germany and Switzerland. We can afford to throw furniture away after a few years. This is an undesirable trend, as we all know. The planet can no longer support the resulting emissions and waste of resources. It’s a good thing that we are becoming increasingly aware that in future there will be no alternative but to have a genuine circu- lar economy. It’s also a good thing that this is going hand in hand with a certain change in people’s values, so that we appreciate the authenticity and value of old things more. Indeed, for many people the fascination of always buying new things seems to be losing its appeal. For architects, it has long gone without saying that “building on what’s there”, i.e. preserving the existing buildings and repurposing them, is an important objective and can often result in particularly impressive architecture. So why shouldn’t this aim of preserving and reusing also apply to furniture, products and consumer goods? In our Remanufacturing business unit, we have taken this approach to furniture for years, and for some time now we have been seeing significant and steady growth there. It is quite clear that the time has come to look at furniture in the light of the circular economy. Mathias Seiler Remanufacturing and the circular economy Mathias Seiler Head of Design and Marketing, Girsberger Holding AG “ In future there will be no alternative but to have a genuine circular economy. ”