High environmental standards run like a 'green thread' through everything the Danish upholstery manufacturer Gabriel does. The result is a string of environmental certifications. Gabriel demonstrates that it is possible to manufacture products that are at once environmentally friendly and competitive.
Gabriel is one of Europe's largest manufacturers of quality upholstery fabric. The company employs 64 staff, and textiles for furniture manufacturers around the world are developed at the head office in Aalborg.
For Gabriel, CSR means that the company assumes responsibility for creating value that contributes to a positive societal development. In both the development and the manufacture of the company's products, Gabriel endeavours to minimise the impact on the environment and provide a good working environment while taking the health and safety of the end consumers into account to the greatest possible extent. Gabriel has adopted the UN Global Compact and demands that all the company's suppliers do the same. In practice, this means that the company demands adherence to a high standard of business ethics throughout the supply chain and compliance with all employee rights.
Gabriel's environmental efforts have resulted in a string of environmental labels and certifications. In 1996, the production facility in Aalborg was the first textile company in Denmark to introduce an environmental management system in accordance with EMAS and ISO 14001. In 2003, Gabriel was the first upholstery fabric manufacturer to receive the EU Eco-label, and in 2006 the Oeko-Tex health label was introduced on Gabriel's main products.
Today, two out of three of the company's products carry the Oeko-Tex label. In 2010, Gabriel was the first Danish company to become Cradle to Cradle-certified, and the Gaja C2C wool upholstery fabric was introduced. This involves a completely new approach to sustainability, in which the products are manufactured so they benefit rather than harm the environment.
None of the solvents and colours used in Gabriel's products contain any heavy metals. The company also avoids environmentally harmful finishing on their textiles, which not only minimises emissions and waste in production but also reduces production costs. It also means that the end users are not exposed to health risks. The CSR activities thus help ensure that the prices of the products are competitive.
For Gabriel, one of the cornerstones in the company's business strategy is to ensure that the production facilities in Denmark, Lithuania and China comply with the same high environmental standards. In 2009, Gabriel moved wet treatment, dyeing and finishing of the upholstery fabrics from Aalborg to the Scandye UAB dye-works in Lithuania, of which Gabriel owns 40%.
The Lithuanian dye-works are today certified according to both the ISO 14001 environmental standard and the OHSAS 18001 health and safety standard. In addition, the dye-works systematically incorporate CSR, which plays a major role in ensuring a reliable workforce and good collaboration with local authorities.
The company's suppliers are located all over the world and they are selected according to their ability to comply with environmental requirements and their willingness to engage in transparent and close collaboration. Gabriel's office in China employs local quality and environmental technicians who select suppliers who comply with Gabriel's environmental requirements as well as the UN Global Compact.
Gabriel's employees audit the suppliers on an ongoing basis, and the company places emphasis on close partnerships in which the suppliers perceive Gabriel as an advisor rather than an inspector.