At DEDON, outdoor living is our reason for being. So it should come as little surprise how seriously we take our commitment to the environment. Anyone can say that, of course. What makes our commitment different is our ability to act on it. Within our industry, DEDON is unique. We own and manage every phase of the creation of our furniture. For a company like us, whose philosophy is to achieve harmony between our work and our nature, that presents a very special opportunity – the opportunity to lead.
Developed 20 years ago this year, the original DEDON Fiber is a model of environmental friendliness. It’s sustainably produced, 100 percent recyclable and completely non-toxic (it can be used in children’s toys or to wrap food). It doesn’t pollute groundwater or harm the ozone layer. And remarkably, it’s not finished – the research lab at our fiber production facility in Lüneburg is continually seeking ways to make it even more environmentally sound. Each time they succeed, we raise the environmental standard for our entire industry just that much higher.
And the same is true at our manufacturing facilities on Cebu island in the Philippines. Here too, we control the entire manufacturing process. And here too, we systematically approach each phase of production with the aim of continually improving environmental performance. Among our most notable achievements so far is the zero waste we generate across the entire DEDON supply chain. “Every scrap of waste created during production is recycled,” explains Hervé Lampert, a passionate advocate of the environment. “Every leftover strip of fiber, every off-cut of aluminum is segregated, sold off or otherwise reintroduced to the system. Even the aluminum shavings from the cutting blade are recycled.”
But as comprehensive as our waste-free supply chain may be, Hervé believes DEDON’s most sustainable feat of all is the unsurpassed quality of our product: “I think the most important ecological contribution DEDON makes is to create products that are the most durable and lasting of their kind. We aren’t using this planet’s precious raw materials to create something that will have to be thrown away in a few years – which, frankly, is the norm in outdoor furniture. We’re using these resources to make products that will last for 20 years and more – hopefully for a lifetime.”
When a DEDON product does come to the end of its life cycle, every last piece of it, from the high-density polyethylene fiber to the stainless steel screws and gliders to the valuable aluminum of its frame, is fully recyclable. To ensure that these materials don’t end up in a landfill, we’re currently studying programs for reclaiming old DEDON pieces and recycling them ourselves. “We’re taking a serious look,” says Hervé, “not only at bringing the product to market, but also at taking it back. We believe that, more and more, this is the way things will go. We’ve seen that it’s already happening in, for example, the computer industry. And so we’re saying, let’s not wait until it becomes the norm. Let’s be the first in our industry to do it. Let’s be the ones to inspire the others in this way.”
It can’t all happen overnight, of course. But because we control the entire production, we’re uniquely positioned to set the pace for our industry – and to leverage our independence and leading market position to ensure that our suppliers worldwide agree to and meet our rigorous standards. We don’t do this because it’s required of us – it’s not. We do it because we can. “We’re still a young company,” says Hervé, “and we like challenges. We’re always setting targets, looking for the next goal we can achieve, the next level we can reach. For DEDON, the point is not to meet the old standards but to create the new ones.” In the end, it’s the same ethos of continual improvement that we at DEDON apply to our pursuit of quality. And just like improved quality, improved environmental performance is something each member on our team can contribute to. Says Hervé, “We are an organization of people, and each and every one of us has to be a part of the chain to make it happen. Each one of us needs to understand what responsibility he personally has towards respecting the environment and making sure that we preserve the planet and give a better world to the next generation. We try to help everyone at DEDON – as well as those who do business with us – to understand that we all have to feel responsible as individuals,” Hervé continues. “Not just to lay back and see what the company is doing, but to take the initiative. One way we do this is by trying to support any contribution they can make.” For example? “Recently, as we were expanding the back area of our current factory to make more space, one of our guys was saying, ‘Why not put up a cistern tank and collect the rainwater from the roof?’ So we implemented it in the construction of the extension. Now this water is used for flushing our toilets, washing company cars and buses, and especially for the powder-coating process, because there is a lot of treatment and water rinsing.” In addition to measures DEDON takes internally, we try to support the environment by raising an awareness that goes beyond the workplace and extends to every aspect of our lives. And that means taking part – as a team of volunteers – in projects like the rehabilitation of Cebu’s watershed. To date, DEDON has planted trees in 3.5 hectares of protected watershed areas, and we’re committed to planting four hectares more over the next three years. At the same time, we’re also involved in the rehabilitation of Cebu’s marine sanctuaries. Our efforts include planting mangroves in the protected waters of Olango Island as well as volunteering to do coastal clean-ups. No-one is required to participate in any of these efforts, of course. But each time we have an outing, large numbers of the team get involved. Indeed, many of them bring their children and other family members. Of course, this comes as no surprise to Hervé, an active volunteer himself. “We try to make sure,” he says, “that as an organization, we’re thinking of everything that’s happening around us, and not just thinking about what we can do or create for ourselves. And basically, this attitude is a part of our culture – not only to take but also to give and to share.”