Meet the sustainability leader: Social Sustainability & Community Development – JPA Furniture

With entries now open for edie's Sustainability Leaders Awards 2020, this new feature series showcases the achievements of the 2019 winners and reveals their secrets to success. Up next: The winner of our Social Sustainability & Community Development Award, JPA Furniture.

Meet the sustainability leader: Social Sustainability & Community Development – JPA Furniture

(L-R) Presenter Beth Knight

JPA Furniture is an SME with 25 staff that specialises in the supply of contract furniture for offices, universities and the healthcare sector. As a family business, JPA’s core values are to operate in a way which has the most positive impact on the communities in which it operates.

The firm’s Awards entry was for its unique, end-of-life redundant furniture solution which delivers new business, improves its clients’ waste performance and carbon footprint through recycling and, ultimately, has improved its CSR performance through community rehoming and reuse.

Called DODO, the solution focuses on the collection of unwanted furniture for recycling on a ‘new for old’ basis. The project is named DODO to reflect the company’s purpose of saving furniture from extinction. The aim of the initiative was to reduce the volume of redundant furniture sent to landfill each year by businesses and maximise it by offering an innovative furniture recycling and reuse solution to the community. Through the project, JPA rehomes still fit-for-task collected furniture using its local knowledge to match it up to community organisations, delivering it at no cost and freeing valuable funds for spending elsewhere. DODO makes use of huge resources of unwanted furniture – at worst diverting it from landfill (saving landfill tonnes/carbon emissions) while at best, bringing tangible benefits to local organisations.

A pilot project during Sustainable St Albans Week 2015 aimed to rehome as many chairs as possible in a ‘100 Chair Challenge’. The pilot saw 67 chairs rehomed and proved that there was a need for the service. JPA identified that transport and labour costs prevent large-scale take-up of free furniture on websites, so providing it free-of-charge removed barriers for furniture reuse. JPA keeps costs low by fitting deliveries into quieter schedules or when the company is passing through the local area.

At the time of entry for this Award, JPA had rehomed more than 3,100 redundant furniture items from 72 companies to 116 community causes. These items have saved more than £310,000 in new furniture spend, freeing up valuable funds to be spent elsewhere. .Furniture recipients include colleges, hospitals, business startups, charities and not-for-profit organisations – bringing JPA into contact with a broad range of community stakeholders.

JPA received its first £1m order in 2016 and has won around £3.2m worth of business at margins of 36%. Fundamentally, the firm has reduced the cost of waste to 0.04% of turnover. Because JPA operates locally with vehicles and fitters in close proximity to clients on a daily basis, DODO is easily integrated into its schedules and at a low-cost – the company hasn’t had to do anything major except ensure legal compliance for waste. The local operation also means that JPA has more effective networks in place with community organisations, local media and chamber of commerce who act as advocates for both businesses and local groups.

Other key benefits of the project include staff morale and engagement. As a result of the scheme, JPA claims that staff are now more motivated to make a difference.

Elsewhere in its sustainability work, JPA has achieved zero-waste-to-landfill status, recycled 150 tonnes of packaging and cut fleet mileage emissions by 35% – all since 2016. The firm claims that these activities, combined with DODO, have collectively mitigated the emission of 750,000 tonnes of CO2e.

JPA’s sustainability credentials are now recognised with seats on the Furniture Industry Sustainability Programme and the BS80001 Furniture Remanufacturing Standard working party. JPA has also secured ‘Exceptional’ ratings on the CIPS Sustainability Index against Economic (100%), Environmental (100%) and Social (97%) pillars. Moreover, JPA won the Mayor’s Pride CSR Award in 2017.

In essence, JPA’s DODO project is a fantastic example of how a company can have a positive effect on the communities in which it works, as a fundamental consequence of its business activity.

“Obviously, we are delighted to win this award and would like to congratulate all the other finalists as, quite honestly, every entry looked incredible,” JPA Furniture’s managing director Graham Pulsford said.

“We’re a family-owned SME and it’s important to us to actively make a positive contribution as a consequence of our business activity.”

What the judges said: “JPA Furniture has given us a real-life example of how circular economy principles can help grow a business whilst maintaining integrity in its operations and enhancing community engagement. The entry told the story of a remarkable achievement for a small, family-run business that is focused on living its values.”

edie’s 2020 Sustainability Leaders Awards

Now entering their 13th year for 2020, the RSA-accredited Sustainability Leaders Awards are sure to be one of the biggest nights of the year in the sustainability and energy space, with some exciting new categories added to recognise excellence across the spectrum of sustainable business.   

The 2020 Sustainability Leaders are now OPEN for entries. The entry deadline is Friday 27 September 2019. The Awards will then take place on the night of 5 February 2020 at the Park Plaza London, Westminster. 


edie Staff


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