The Sustainable Office European Association (SOfEA) started two years ago as an industry initiative to bring together resellers and manufacturers to discuss how to solve the problem of ‘overkill’ regarding the sheer number of questionnaires constantly required from manufacturers to demonstrate product compliance and supplier conformity to certain business standards.
Today, it’s a pan-European association driven by resellers and manufacturers in the office products industry that aim to establish a European unique and common tool to measure the environmental impact of office supplies.
Managing Director Anita Singh heads the association on a day-to-day basis. She refers to what SOfEA sets out to accomplish: “Our mission is to create a simple EU industry-wide eco-rating system to encourage innovative, eco-efficient and responsible office products.
“In doing so, we are taking into account customer requirements as well as existing standards, labels and European methods that are accessible and credible for end-users, manufacturers and distributors.”
SOfEA’s goal is to enable both B2B as well as B2C consumers to be informed about the sustainable performance of office products wherever they are sold within the European market. In doing so, all consumers should be able to make better decisions regarding sustainability when buying office products.
In addition, SOfEA aims to support and encourage manufacturers to improve the sustainability profile of their products, and increase efficiency across the industry regarding sustainable data collection and processing.
The association operates in collaboration with a Scientific Committee – a group of four independent scientists – that supports these goals and works towards an online environmental assessment based on 40 indicators. Where a certified independent third party validates product data and evidence, ratings are made available to end users, vendors and resellers.
Very specifically, SOfEA has been focusing – and will continue to do so over the next few months – on the following milestones: hotspot implementation; scorecard testing; tender round II + III; and communication materials.
Singh concludes: “We are making good progress and we are excited to complete the milestones this year and to establish the SOfEA rating system and assessment. We encourage companies to join us and experience a professional environment working together towards our goals.”