Living beautifully with Sanderson Design Group

Sanderson are dedicated to bringing the beautiful into people’s homes and lives, and are paving the way for sustainability in their industry.

Charlotte Cameron
Sanderson Group Fabric Manufacturing Net Zero
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With a portfolio of historic brands and a Royal Warrant Holder since 1924, Sanderson Design Group is a luxury interior furnishings company that has played a pivotal role in defining English interior decoration. The group is united in a single purpose: “To bring the beautiful into people’s homes and lives”. But this ethos extends far beyond products that look and feel great, it means living well with respect, care, and compassion for our world and all who live in it.  

Sustainability became a business focus for Sanderson in 2019, when they started measuring their carbon footprint with Planet Mark. Since then, they have been embedding sustainability into business operations by adopting new technologies, materials, and ways of working with supply chains to reimagine their products. 

In this way, they are protecting the heritage of the brand and manufacturing so they can be enjoyed by future generations. This is furthered by their association with the Royal Warrant Holders, where sustainability is one of the key criteria in renewal of a Royal Warrant.

Reimagining luxury

The luxury design industry is not one traditionally synonymous with sustainability. Companies have been using solvents, dyes and chemicals for decades, while waste and the use of carbon-intensive materials have also been sore points for the industry.  

Despite this, an increase in climate literacy and consumer demand for sustainable products has meant that companies across the sector have had to innovate to stay competitive. A focus on sustainability has not only given companies a competitive edge, but it is helping to reduce their costs, attract and retain talent, and future-proof their business. 

Sanderson are using the data and insight from their Planet Mark certification to reimagine their brand, and its impact on the planet. Sanderson are committed to continuous improvement, as keeping Planet Mark certification requires a minimum 2.5% year-on-year reduction in carbon. Sanderson have gone beyond this with a target of a 5% reduction in carbon annually.  

From extending product lifecycles to investigating new ways of sourcing energy and raw materials, Sanderson are committing their processes to positive change. The business’ focus in 2022 is to design in longevity and explore product lifecycle, with a project group set up to reinforce this.  

The lifecycle of a product is a critical aspect of sustainable design. It requires consideration of the environmental impact of materials and products throughout their entire lifecycle – from extraction, production, transportation, and processing, all the way to how they are discarded.  

“Mobilising entire production lines, from design to installation, embodies the holistic approach behind the Live Beautiful strategy. We intend to embrace the circular economy to minimise the environmental impact of our products.” Sanderson Group outlined in their Live Beautiful strategy.  

“Afterlife has not yet been a focus of ours, and this is an opportunity to reduce waste and make the products the most sustainable they can be.” The Group added.  

Beyond the products themselves, Sanderson have implemented a series of carbon-saving initiatives across the entire business; one of the most impactful being a switch to 100% renewable electricity. 

In addition to this, the company’s packaging has transformed through moving to recycled, recyclable or sustainably sourced alternatives, including sugarcane wrapping instead of plastic. Printed materials such as sample books have been reduced by more than half through using digital versions and printing to order.  

Working with supply chain

The company is on an ambitious journey to net zero, which involves tackling all three Scopes of emissions. This has meant not only reimagining products but ways in which the company engages its supply chain. 

While Scope 1 and 2 emissions are mostly within a company’s control and there are many solutions that exist to help reduce these emissions sources, for example switching to renewable energy or transitioning to electric vehicles, Scope 3 is often where the most impact is made. These Scope 3 emissions are all the emissions that a company is associated with by its upstream and downstream activities. 

Being vertically integrated with a UK manufacturing base, and having strong relationships across the supply chain, Sanderson is perfectly positioned to tackle its Scope 3 emissions.  

The printing factory that Sanderson use, Standfast & Barracks, has been a creative force in fabric printing since 1923. It stands today as one of the few British factories remaining, with Sanderson making up 70% of their Lancaster factory’s work.  

The factory has now shifted to a new production process called EcoFast digital printing which is significantly reducing carbon emissions and supporting Sanderson’s net zero goal. This innovative pigment based digital printing system uses 30-80 litres less water per metre when compared with conventional screen printing, and only about half of the water used for reactive digital printing. 

Sanderson have also committed to sourcing the majority of its 100% cotton-based fabrics, along with their cotton velvet and some cotton linen blends through Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) contracts. BCI is the largest cotton sustainability programme in the world, with the mission of helping cotton communities survive and thrive, while protecting and restoring the environment. 

On their downstream activities, Sanderson are close to having removed all short haul express goods freighted via air, moving to consolidated land freight to mainland Europe instead. 

“The ZeroBy30 roadmap we developed with Planet Mark will be the most effective tool for us to use to move to our ultimate goal.” Ben Naylor, Group Operations Director at Sanderson, said. Sanderson have been working closely with consultants at Planet Mark to develop the Strategy-into-Action roadmap to make the emissions reductions needed to achieve their net zero ambitions. 

A holistic approach to sustainability

Sanderson know that sustainability extends beyond reducing carbon emissions, it requires a holistic approach that paves the way for a more just and equitable society.  

“From supporting our local communities to finding ways of sourcing sustainable resources for manufacturing, Sanderson Design Group recognises that this responsibility must be upheld in all areas we may impact.” the company said.  

As a member of the Royal Warrant Holders Association, Sanderson have sponsored a scholar through the Association’s Charity, the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust, which supports the training and education of talented and aspiring craftspeople.  

They also donate to foodbanks in communities local to their sites and have a proud record of donating fabric to a range of charitable causes.  

As part of measuring and reducing their emissions with Planet Mark, Sanderson directly and measurably contribute to seven United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in year four of certification.  

This World Environment Day we are shining the light on companies who are leaders in their sector, showing that net zero is possible.  

We have #OnlyOneEarth. Let’s look after it.  

You can find out more about the Planet Mark Net Zero Programme here.  


What is the business case for sustainability?

Thursday 21 February 2024, 1:00-2:00 PM

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