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Recycling and Earth Day: American manufacturers must change


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The United States has a recycling problem. As highlighted by the Environmental Protection Agency, a whopping 292.4 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) flooded our systems in 2018. Despite efforts, only about 94 million tons were recycled and composted, for a modest recycling rate of 32.1 percent .

While this represents significant progress from the paltry less than 7% of waste recycled in 1960, it underlines the potential for further improvement. It is notable that the manufacturing industry makes a substantial contribution, producing approximately 1,800 kilos of waste for every employee.

Furniture is one of the most egregious culprits, as the EPA estimates that 9 million tons of furniture are thrown away every year, which amounts to about 5% of everything sent to landfills. As manufacturers, we have a responsibility to the environment and consumers to help curb this alarming waste epidemic. Embracing the use of recycled materials is one of the most impactful measures in tackling this pressing issue.

By diverting waste from overcrowded landfills and focusing on sustainable manufacturing practices, we not only reduce pressure on the environment, but also unlock a plethora of benefits. By using recycled materials, we reduce the need for extracting, refining and processing raw materials and conserve natural resources such as wood, water and minerals. We save 95% of the energy needed to make new materials and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In some cases, recycled materials can be more cost-effective than sourcing and processing new materials, potentially increasing profit margins. Finally, consumers continually demonstrate that they care about companies that invest in sustainable and environmentally friendly practices. A Nielsen Global Sustainability Report, which surveyed consumers in 60 countries, found that 73% of global consumers would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment. Furthermore, 81% of respondents strongly agree that companies should help improve the environment.

Personally, I believe that we must be part of the change to improve the environment, and as such spearhead a multi-layered strategy at Simpli Home. The goal is nothing less than to pioneer a climate-positive model within the furniture industry by 2030.

The majority of our woven fabric sofas have recycled polyester upholstery. This sustainable fabric not only keeps plastic out of landfills and oceans, but also requires 59% less energy compared to its new counterpart. The textiles we use meet the stringent Global Recycled Standards (GRS) set by the Textile Exchange, which require a minimum of 50% recycled content, responsible manufacturing practices and extensive chain of custody tracing throughout every stage of production, as well as the esteemed OKEO -TEX Standard 100 certification. This certification ensures that every part of our products has been thoroughly tested for harmful chemicals, ensuring safety for human health.

Furthermore, our commitment to sustainability extends beyond the choice of fabric and includes the foundation of our furniture: wood. We select all our wood from sustainable forests and ensure that our harvesting practices prioritize the delicate balance of ecosystems, watersheds, wildlife and tree populations. But our commitment doesn’t stop there. We partnered with Evertreen, an online tree planting platform, to create the Simpli Home Tree Planting Program. For every purchase via simpli-home.com we plant one mangrove tree in the Gazi Mangrove Forest in Kenya.

In addition, we have partnered with CleanHub, an organization dedicated to collecting and reclaiming plastic waste from the ocean, along with its affiliated Green Worm Waste Management initiative. This program involves women self-help groups in Edavanna, India to facilitate door-to-door collection services to prevent plastic waste from entering the environment. With these programs, we have proudly achieved our plastic-neutral goal between 2022 and 2023.

We are currently working towards our goal of collecting 105,000 kilos of plastic waste. To keep us honest and focused on this goal, we have implemented a live tracker on the website. To date, we have successfully collected 84,479 kilos of plastic, which equates to a whopping 84,481,163 water bottles that have been reused and diverted from landfills.

As we approach the 55th anniversary of Earth Day, I implore manufacturers across the country to pause and reflect on both its storied legacy and the path forward. The inaugural Earth Day, celebrated on April 22, 1970, served as a catalyst and sparked a global movement that mobilized millions of Americans from all walks of life in a shared commitment to protect our planet. With more than 1 billion people from 192 countries actively participating in Earth Day initiatives each year, the call to action has never been clearer. Even the smallest actions, such as the transition to the use of recycled materials, can serve as an impetus for monumental transformation.

Yoram Weinreich co-founded Simpli Home with his brother Erez after working together in the North American lumber industry as part of a three-generation family business. As part of his role as CEO, he has in-depth knowledge in product development, sales channel management, logistics, international operations and marketing. He graduated from Western University and York University’s Schulich School of Business and received his Master of Business Administration in entrepreneurial studies and marketing.