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Keilhauer donated textiles to local charities and community groups.Provided

Meghan Sherwin loves having a front row seat as Keilhauer Ltd. becomes a global leader in sustainable design and manufacturing – indisputably. When you work for the company that produced the world’s first carbon-neutral office chair, that comes with the job.

“It’s all about our products and making sure what we’re putting into the market is as sustainable as possible,” says Sherwin, chief marketing officer.

“We live and breathe sustainability every day. That makes me proud to work for Keilhauer.”

Keilhauer is a privately-owned furniture manufacturer recognized globally for its award-winning designs. Founded in 1981, the Toronto-based company manufactures seating and tables for office spaces, government buildings, universities and more.

Keilhauer’s commitment to being a green employer infuses every aspect of the company’s operations. From the design phase to the manufacturing process and post-production of furniture like the pioneering carbon-neutral Swurve chair, Keilhauer takes a holistic approach to ensure its carbon footprint keeps shrinking.

Keilhauer’s Design for the Environment program continually evaluates the environmental impacts of products from the earliest stages. Not only must they be carbon neutral, the company strives to create products that are 100-per-cent recyclable.

Keilhauer’s Take-Back program enables consumers to disassemble and recycle their used furniture. By eliminating single-use packaging for shipping, Keilhauer cut the need for 84,000 boxes in 2019 and over one million since 2000.

One of the keys to the commitment to continuous sustainability is that Keilhauer’s vision has everyone in the company seeing green, from management to the shop floor.

“Our people care about sustainability from top to bottom, from the production lines to the office and company leadership,” says Josh Belczyk, sustainability officer.

“Eliminating waste and a robust recycling program can only be successful when everyone participates.”

Constant communication has employees giving feedback on how the company can keep improving. Keilhauer employees create sustainable products in a building incorporating the company’s green values and furthering its environmental goals. From the landscaping planted with native wildflower species providing habitat for bees to a factory floor with LED lighting, Keilhauer’s facilities meet gold standards for energy efficiency and carbon reduction.

The company’s Extended Recycling program not only ensures that waste by-products are reused and repurposed, it builds powerful community connections benefiting many different groups that need a little help from their friends.

Sherwin cites the company’s partnership with the Indigenous Arts Collective of Canada, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving Indigenous art. Keilhauer donates leather remnants from its manufacturing to the collective’s artists, who in turn create moccasins, leather mittens and other goods for sale to bolster their local economy.

For Sherwin, it’s another example of how a commitment to sustainability can not only benefit the planet, but give people the means to create useful objects of delight.

“I think that goes back to sustainability being inherent in our culture and our DNA. Any project we undertake, whatever we produce, should be made sustainably. It should always be well made, sustainable and beautiful,” she says.

To keep expanding and refining its sustainability vision, Keilhauer reaches out to community and corporate partners. From the Forest Stewardship Council to the Toronto District School Board, the company seeks out like-minded organizations to reach its goals.

“We pride ourselves on being an organization that is going to be around for the long haul,” says Belczyk.

“The designs we create, the products we produce and the connections we make all help us with sustainability and preserving the planet for people.”

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Advertising feature produced by Canada’s Top 100 Employers, a division of Mediacorp Canada Inc. The Globe and Mail’s editorial department was not involved.

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