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Green Purchasing in Furniture Company Research Paper

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Updated: Jul 3rd, 2019

The Herman Miller Furniture Company was established in the year 1923. The company deals with wide range office products such as home furnishing equipment and furniture.

Since its establishment, Herman Miller Furniture Company has realized a considerably growth that has enabled it to become an influential and prolific producer of high quality modern furniture.

Examples of products produced by Herman Miller Furniture Company include Aeron chair, Eames Lounge C hair, and Marshmallow sofa. The company managed to open a showroom in Chicago in the year 1939.

Some years later, Gilbert Rohde partnered with Herman miller Furniture Company and helped in improving the design of the company’s furniture (Upshaw 2007, p.28).

Although the company has continued to realize success in its operations, it has not effectively adopted the green purchasing strategy that seeks to reclaim and recycle some of the materials used by the company in its production (Esty & Winston 2009, p.218).

The need for furniture companies (such as Herman Miller Furniture Company) to increase their investment in green products is likely to increase the company’s total purchasing costs, and this can in turn lower its competitiveness.

According to Mansvelt (2011, p.323), several companies fail to engage in green purchasing due to the increased costs associated with environmental programs developed by the company.

A simple discussion by Burritt (2011, p.43) describes green purchasing as a process of engaging in purchasing practices that are environmentally-conscious with the aim of promoting the reclamation and recycling of materials purchased by the company.

This form of purchasing also reduces wastage and increases the effectiveness of materials purchased by the company.

According to Seliger (2012, p.257), the effort by Herman Miller Furniture Company to engage in green purchasing strategy is also hindered by a number of other factors such as increased costs in employee training and auditing services.

This implies that the firm is likely to be placed at economic disadvantage in relation to other firms that do not emphasis environmental protection.

Another challenge that can hinder a company from engaging in green purchasing strategy is the reduction of qualified suppliers as a result of enactment of very strict environmental standards (Min & Galle 1997, p.3).

It is worth to mention that green purchasing strategy cannot help a company to achieve its desired objectives if there is no systematic reduction of wasted resources that relate to materials purchased by the company.

According to Liu, Strangway and Feng (2012, p.102), emissions and wastes that emanate from the supply chain usually cause a lot of environmental problems such as acid rain and global warming.

Due to this fact, it becomes extremely important to tackle environmental problems by emphasizing a lot on controlling and preventing waste through green purchasing.

Since the application of a green purchasing strategy is not a straightforward or direct process, companies should take appropriate measures to reduce or prevent increase in material costs.

Several potential suppliers may also distance themselves from supplying the company due to the absence of traditional parts and materials.

This research paper made use of quite a number of research questions that could help Herman miller Furniture Company to adopt and implement the green purchasing strategy in an effective manner. Some of the research questions that were explored in the study have been discussed in the following paragraphs.

To start with, the study sought to determine the level of knowledge from the company’s purchasing professionals regarding various environmental advances in materials, parts, and products.

The most common strategies for green purchasing were also examined. Other questions involved the determining the effect of environmental partnerships on supplier selection, and the effects of environmental regulations on the company’s green purchasing efforts.

The methodology used in this study involved distribution of questionnaires to selected industry groups. Most of the selected groups were those that were dealing with heavy production of waste and scrap materials. Specifically, the research focused on furniture, printing, and food industries.

The survey was conducted through a random sample of two thousand members from all the selected industries. However, a few participants failed to respond to questionnaires and were excluded from the research findings.

Data analysis was done using the statistical packages for social sciences, while result presentation was done using graphs, charts, and tables. Each firm from all the selected industries had more than one hundred employees whereby most of them were acting as purchasing professionals.

From the study results, it was observed that all the firms had an annual purchasing volume that ranged between one million dollars and one billion dollars. In regards to green purchasing, more than half of the respondents indicated that they were aware of the green purchasing concept.

In addition, close to eighty percent of the respondents reported to have participated in green purchasing initiatives. This is considerably a very big percentage in relation to findings from previous studies where very few purchasing professionals engage in green purchasing initiatives.

This is an indication that there is an increase in the level of awareness regarding the importance of engaging in green purchasing. The study also established that some of the firms lacked an effective environmental mission statement.

Some respondents attributed this to inability of a company to define appropriate purchasing strategies that are environmental-conscious when dealing with potential suppliers (Min & Galle 2001, p.2).

The impact analysis of this study has revealed that several purchasing professionals have increased their attention to environmental regulations.

They have started to undertake environmental compliance audits and embarked on the establishment of new restrictions and environmental initiatives that enable companies to adhere to the set regulatory guidelines.

More than half of the respondents in this research reported that their individual firms had established environmental auditing programs. A very good number of respondents revealed that their organizations were collaborating with their suppliers in protecting their environment.

In order to understand the researched issues, three firms from furniture, printing, and food industries have been used. In terms of the furniture industry, the green purchasing strategy can be easily realized if the purchasing experts are able to coordinate with various contractors and custodians of the company.

In the case of Herman miller Furniture Company, purchasing professionals should coordinate well with risk management experts especially in identifying safety issues, and in identifying proper mechanisms for solving issues that affect operations of the company.

According to Masters (2001, p.29), there is great need for Herman miller Furniture Company to establish or develop various categories for grouping used and new products and materials.

When dealing with long-term suppliers, Herman miller Furniture Company should ensure that they make a comparison between different features such as price and repair agreements of the supplied materials.

For the printing industry, purchasing professionals can exercise the green purchasing strategy by coordinating the purchase of printers with various departments that facilitate printing.

Purchasing of printers and copiers should also be conducted in a manner that allows the setting of a default mode, and increasing the level of training to the vendors dealing with the company’s products.

Lastly, the food industry can adopt this form of purchasing by offering adequate training to staff who maintain various equipments used in food production. To prevent wastage, the purchasing professionals should only purchase equipments that facilitate proper mixing of different ratios used in food production.

From the research findings, quite a number of recommendations can be made to help companies in reducing unnecessary wastes by adopting the green purchasing strategy. To begin with, companies should visualize the importance of developing a procurement plan for source reduction.

In order to achieve this strategy, companies should rely on productive ideas such as reviewing their purchasing policies and working closely with their partners.

If possible, companies should provide a well detailed description of various development strategies and their use in implementing company’s efforts in source reduction. Secondly, it is necessary to make a good assessment of life-cycle costs. This should mainly be done on products or materials that have are long-lasting.

This process may assist the purchasing professionals of a company to purchase materials that have the desired attributes for source reduction. Companies should also find alternative ways of managing data and sharing resources.

By so doing, a company can easily identify appropriate opportunities that facilitate or encourage sharing of resources in an organization. In addition, Peppers and Rogers (2004, p.89) assert that it is important for purchasing agents to develop cordial relationships with the end users.

This makes it easier for purchasing experts to identify the actual materials that should be purchased. Lastly, the purchasing agents should establish appropriate ways of introducing the source reduction concept to the end users by helping them to identify various options for source reduction and their corresponding benefits.


Burritt, R 2011, Environmental management accounting and supply chain management, Springer, Dordrecht.

Esty, D. C., & Winston, A. S 2009, Green to gold: how smart companies use environmental strategy to innovate, create value, and build competitive advantage, Wiley, Hoboken, N.J.

Liu, X., Strangway, D. W., & Feng, Z 2012, Environmental innovation in China, WIT, Southampton.

Mansvelt, J 2011, Green consumerism: an A-to-Z guide, Sage publishers, Los Angeles.

Masters, N 2001, Sustainable use of new and recycled materials in coastal and fluvial construction: a guidance manual, Thomas Telford, London.

Min, H. & Galle, W.P 1997, “Green purchasing Strategies: Trends and implications”. International Journal of Purchasing and Materials Management vol.5 no.2, pp.10-17.

Min, H. & Galle, W.P 2001, Green Purchasing Practices of US Firms. International Journal Of Operations And Production Management, vol. 21 no. 9, pp. 1-17.

Peppers, D., & Rogers, M 2004, Managing Customer Relationships a Strategic Framework, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken.

Seliger, G 2012, Sustainable Manufacturing: Shaping Global Value Creation, Springer, Berlin.

Upshaw, L. B 2007, Truth: new rules for marketing in a skeptical world, AMACOM, New York.

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