Cebu exporters urged to develop 'green furniture'

August 17, 2009 Cebu City – With more furniture buyers overseas sourcing products from sustainable companies, the Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation Inc. (CFIF) is intent on developing more environment-friendly furniture items, or what the industry call “green furniture.”

CFIF Creative Director Kenneth Cobonpue said local exporters can take advantage of the international market’s increasing preference for “green furniture,” that is, furniture made with sustainable raw materials and thus, environment-friendly.

Cobonpue, who is also President of Interior Crafts of the Islands Inc., is a globally-known furniture designer whose creations have caught the attention of some of the biggest names in Hollywood and other wealthy discriminating consumers overseas.

Talking to reporters in an interview, Cobonpue pointed out that “furniture manufacturers in the province have been using environment-friendly materials long before eco-friendly products became a global trend.”

As the economy in the United States begins to show signs of a rebound from the global financial crisis, Cobonpue urged individual furniture companies to start initiating a campaign for such so-called “green furniture,” noting that Cebu is known as one of the largest producers of eco-friendly home furnishing products in the world.

Producing eco-friendly furniture, he added, is also a “cost-wise strategy” as the Philippines has ample supply of indigenous raw materials and recycled components that can be re-engineered and transformed into world-class home accessory products.

However, CFIF Vice President for External Affairs Charles Streegan, in a separate interview, opined that there still exists industry players who are not keen on pushing an industry-wide campaign for joining the “green revolution” trend.

“We have to be careful in labeling our products 'green'. We need the right foundations first because when you say it's a 'green' product, you have to address the entire supply chain and not just the end-result,” said Streegan.

“There is also an added focus on how waste is handled,” he added.

CFIF, he said, believes branding their products “green” means calculating the entire ecological backpack. “It has to be 'green' from its inception, birth, death, and rebirth, which is through the recycling of waste materials.”

Streegan admitted that one of the challenges for the local industry to produce more “green furniture” pieces is to overcome the setting up of competitive price points.

“But we don’t sell the product based on its being eco-friendly. Eco-friendly is value-added,” he said.

The CFIF, for over half a decade now, has been advocating for the use of a proper environment management system in the operations of its member-companies. (Manila Bulletin)

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