BASSETT, VA – Bassett Furniture has implemented the furniture industry-specific environmental management program known as EFEC within its Martinsville, Va., table plant, as well as its Bassett, Va., warehouse and corporate headquarters building.

Last year Bassett implemented EFEC at its Newton, N.C., upholstery plant. All of the company’s domestic facilities are now EFEC-registered.

EFEC – or “Enhancing Furniture’s Environmental Culture” – is a program created for the home furnishings industry by the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA). To achieve registration, companies must:

* Improve management of resources and raw materials;
* Reduce energy and water consumption; and,
* Reduce waste disposal and associated costs.

“Each of our EFEC teams used the requirements outlined by AHFA to design an environmental program specific to their individual facility,” reports Maegan Hubbard, environmental project manager for Bassett and head of the EFEC implementation team. Hubbard is also a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accredited professional, through a program sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council. “In a short period of time our facilities have seen significant progress toward their goals. They will continue to develop their programs internally as well as encourage awareness of the environment within the community.”

Employee education is a key component of the EFEC program. An implementation team takes the lead in each facility, but the EFEC audit requires random interviews with employees to ensure everyone at every level understands the company’s environmental goals and is participating in the improvement process.

“What happened at Bassett – as well as at every other EFEC facility we have audited this year – is that improvements ended up being made in the community outside the plant as employees realized the positive impact of the improvements they were making inside the plant,” explains AHFA vice president Bill Perdue, who oversees the association’s environmental programs.

“Because of what I have learned from Bassett, we have started a recycling program at our church,” said one employee during the company’s audit interviews. “Employees have started recycling items at home, like aluminum cans, plastic bottles, newspaper and magazines,” reported another.

The Bassett facilities solicit employee ideas for improving energy conservation and recycling. Employee bulletin boards are used to post goals and chart progress. They also hold photos of employees involved in community events where they tout Bassett’s environmental accomplishments and encourage fellow residents to participate in recycling and energy conservation.

To extend the reach of recycling efforts, employees are encouraged to bring recyclables from home to the corporate collection sites.

Since beginning the EFEC program, landfill waste has been reduced by 33 percent at the corporate office. The warehouse has experienced a 28 percent reduction in landfill costs, and the Martinsville table plant has experienced a 70 percent reduction in landfill costs just since January.

In addition, the Martinsville plant has recycled 4,533 pounds of Styrofoam since July and 29 tons of paper and cardboard from April through August. This recycling activity saved the plant over $9,000 in landfill costs.

“Both our corporate community and the wider communities where our facilities are located have benefited from EFEC,” says Bassett President and CEO Rob Spilman.

EFEC – which requires participants to make continual improvements in order to retain their registration – was implemented at 26 different furniture manufacturing locations in 2009 and has been implemented at seven additional locations so far in 2010.

The American Home Furnishings Alliance – located in High Point, N.C., and Washington, D.C. – is the largest association of home furnishings companies in the world and represents more than 240 leading furniture manufacturers and distributors, as well as nearly 200 suppliers to the furniture industry worldwide.

SOURCE: American Home Furnishings Alliance

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.