MillerKnoll makes 2030 sustainability plans
April 21, 2022 | 1:53 pm CDT

Herman Miller's The Greenhouse.

ZEELAND, Mich. -- MillerKnoll Inc. announced on April 21 its new sustainability goals for 2030 to make a positive impact on the planet. The goals are targeted at reducing the company's carbon footprint, designing out waste, and sourcing better materials.

Building on the progress and legacies of Herman Miller, Knoll, and it's collective of global brands, MillerKnoll will leverage these sustainability goals—from product design to building operations—for the next decade.

To help improve the health of our planet and global communities, the company plans to:

  • Reduce carbon footprint: Reduce the carbon footprint from its products and operations by 50% and aim to reduce the carbon footprint of its suppliers.
  • Design out waste: Stop using single-use plastics and substantially reduce all types of waste.
  • Source better materials: Use 50% or more recycled content and purchase materials that are responsibly and sustainably produced.
Cleaning up our planet.
Cleaning up the planet.

"We believe that business should be a force for good. Our teams work hard every day to make a positive impact on our communities and planet and create value for our shareholders," said Andi Owen, CEO, MillerKnoll. "We have focused on designing sustainably for decades. Recent progress includes transitioning to purchase 100% renewable hydro and wind energy at our largest facilities and incorporating ocean-bound plastic in our iconic Aeron Chair and more, which is estimated to divert up to 234 metric tons of plastic from the ocean annually. Our new goals are the latest step in our history of environmental stewardship, and I'm eager to see the progress we'll make as the full collective of MillerKnoll brands."

In July 2021, Herman Miller and Knoll came together to form MillerKnoll, a collective of dynamic brands and one of the largest and most influential modern design companies in the world. As the preeminent leader in modern design, the company is helping customers reimagine the future of work and build destination spaces. MillerKnoll is focused on building a more sustainable and equitable future with greater impact. The new goals will apply across the collective of brands.

"Year by year, each company (now part of the MillerKnoll collective) has made progress in sustainability. Those actions add up and we have made significant headway," said Gabe Wing, Director of Sustainability at MillerKnoll. "Our 2030 sustainability goals continue that momentum and keep us on that well-established path, but also push us to do even more for the planet – empowering our brands, individuals, and teams from across the globe to make decisions that contribute to a positive environmental impact."

Forest Stewardship Council

Sustainable forestry
Responsible use or wood resources.

Many Herman Miller products with wood are FSC certified.

The Forest Stewardship Council is an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization established in 1993 to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests.

Since 2007, Herman Miller has maintained Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Chain of Custody certification. Many laminate and veneer work surfaces and tables as well as metal storage products with wood fronts and tops are available as FSC certified. For specific FSC product claims, see the “Certifications and Standards” section by product in ecomedes. Qualifying Herman Miller Options products will only be FSC certified when requested.

In 2020, Herman Miller and Geiger received the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Leadership Award for longstanding commitment to manufacturing with wood from responsible sources. Herman Miller also received the award in 2015.

Herman Miller’s Responsible Wood Sourcing Policy can be found in the Supplier Code of Conduct.

History of sustainability

Throughout its sustainability history, the company has tapped into the power and passion of its people to drive change. In the early 1990s, Herman Miller teams pushed the company to move away from using endangered rosewood in its iconic Eames Lounge Chair. Around that same time, its GreenHouse facility helped establish green building standards for the industry as a LEED Pioneer Building.

A few years later, Knoll was the first contract furniture company to set and meet environmental commitments through the Chicago Climate Exchange. Knoll was also an early adopter of responsibly sourced wood and played an influential role in developing the North American supply chain for certified wood. This work resulted in making certified wood more widely available to manufacturers across the industry. Knoll and Herman Miller continue to leverage their power in the marketplace with suppliers to increase the long-term supply of responsibly sourced wood.

Both brands have also offered end-of-life programs for over a decade that help customers invest in the circular economy by finding new life for used products. In 2019, fueled by its voluntary employee-led Sustainability Resource Team, the company eliminated single-use plastic water bottles and foodservice ware from all facilities and established targets to remove single-use plastic materials from packaging globally.

Continuing to harness the power of people, MillerKnoll hosts an annual Day of Purpose in partnership with its corporate foundation where employees around the world have a paid day off to vote and make a difference in their communities. Environmental advocacy is one of the top categories in which employees choose to give back.

Looking forward

The company's latest product innovation was the integration of ocean-bound plastic into Herman Miller's Aeron Chair and other products and packaging solutions, driven by MillerKnoll's founding membership in NextWave Plastics. This work is estimated to divert up to 234 metric tons of plastic from the ocean annually, equal to preventing close to 400,000 milk jugs or up to 23 million plastic bottles from entering the ocean annually1.

The company continues to make significant investments in renewable energy. Two of its largest manufacturing facilities now source renewable energy to match 100% forecast load, equal to approximately a quarter of its global energy consumption.

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About the author
Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).