Materials and circular economy
Vision for a circular economy
The circular economy is a topic that is high on the agenda of Beter Bed Holding. It is however also a topic on which success will not be readily achieved. Mattresses in the mainstream market are manufactured on the basis of chemical products and petroleum. Also, collection of mattresses takes place in a range of completely different ways locally and in each country. That makes it difficult for the organisation to make its mark on the return of mattresses and other bedroom furnishings.
The key step that needs to be taken is for the most hazardous raw materials to be phased out. Beter Bed Holding engages in a continual dialogue with its strategic suppliers to reduce the environmental impact of mattresses. In the period ahead, the organisation itself will clearly state which materials need to be replaced most urgently with environmentally friendly components.
The organisation wants to put more emphasis on an upcycling policy, which means that raw materials will be recycled as much as possible (ideally 100%), instead of giving mattresses a second life only once (for example in the shape of a judo mat). This is called downcycling.
While there is currently no upcycling yet, the number of applications for recycling used mattresses is still very limited, which means that a large part of the processing still takes place through incineration. In order to set up an innovation fund based on an eco-disposal fee for consumers, the sector (retailers and manufacturers) initiates various dialogues in order to learn from the tire sector, the glass sector and the home appliance sector. Beter Bed Holding is very closely involved in this endeavour in the Netherlands.
The company attaches value to reducing its amount of waste and recycling where possible.
With the help of the new European guideline from December 2015, Beter Bed Holding strives, that in each country in which it operates an innovation fund will be set up by the industry (manufacturers and retailers) in order to promote research at the front of the chain, enabling to develop mattresses which are easier to disassemble and recycle (in terms of raw materials), whilst more research is promoted at the end of the chain in order to develop applications for reuse. This way a recycling policy could actually be applied.
The total amount of waste fell by 5% to 3,600 tonnes in 2016. The figures fit in with the trend whereby the amount of waste has been reduced by 39% since 2010. The objective to take back, separate and recycle packaging materials was also achieved in 2016. In order to make a better contribution to realising a circular economy, the company will remain in dialogue with its waste processors and suppliers with the aim of finding a solution that will enable used mattresses to be used in new products.
Cardboard and paper
When it comes to the actual processing of waste, Beter Bed Holding is dependent on its service providers. In procuring waste management services, a guarantee is sought to ensure the proportion of waste recycled is as high as possible. Beter Bed Holding has set itself a target of achieving a recycling rate of 75% in 2016. The percentage of recycled waste has risen slightly. Yet without targeted action by the waste industry, it does not seem that this target will be achieved in the short term. Based on discussions with waste management companies, it appears that they are not able to monitor waste streams for individual customers. Accordingly, the figure reported to Beter Bed Holding by the waste management company is the recycling percentage of the whole waste management company. Beter Bed Holding therefore considers the recycling rates to have little value. The CSR steering group will propose how it can report on waste in a meaningful manner in the future.
Application of the precautionary principle
Substances that are not permitted according to European standards and regulations may not be used in products sold by Beter Bed Holding. If and when it is determined that a substance does not comply with European standards and regulations, suppliers must discontinue its usage. In such cases, the organisation will discuss with the supplier what joint action can be taken to find better alternatives. Suppliers must conform to the REACH regulations in manufacturing their goods. One characteristic of REACH is that if an event takes place or will take place while there is strong evidence suggesting this event will have severe effects on the environment, measures must be taken, despite scientific uncertainty.