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One of the most basic needs of a person is a mattress to sleep on, but unfortunately, the massive production of mattresses is far from ecological. In France, 5 million mattresses are thrown away every year, harming the environment. How do we solve this waste problem? Have you ever heard about the Veldeman group? The core activity is to produce high-quality, sustainable mattresses and box springs circularly: from production to end of life.
Veldeman Group encourages its customers to improve their sleeping comfort and sleep quality. The company develops and produces high-quality mattresses and box springs to help them with its mission. Valère Veldeman founded Veldeman in 1954; it is still a 100% family business based in Oudsbergen, Belgium. For a family business, long-term thinking is crucial.
Veldeman Group has always been focused on sustainability in a broader sense. They have already taken more than 120 sustainability actions, and they are still trying to do more. They don’t see sustainability as an obstacle but as an opportunity, part of the company’s DNA. Not only does this business try to reduce waste by trying to switch all their collections to a circular way of production, but they also aim for 5 SDGs with their innovations.
Marc Veldeman is the chairman of this flourishing company with a unique sustainability vision. Valerie Veldeman, who is the sustainable director, shares this vision:
“I am proud of the company that my grandfather started and wanted to carry on his hard work.”
The most significant innovation regarding sustainability is their circular sleep system vel_you. It consists of a circular box spring and mattress. The materials they use are reusable, sustainable, and recyclable. They do not use any glue during the manufacturing process, making the product unique and ecological.
With this system, they want to reduce waste and positively impact the environment. The incentive of this innovation came from her father, while the basic idea came from both their production director and their commercial director.
The production director and the commercial director were inspired to radically change production because they were aware that something had to be done to reduce the waste arising from the production and have a positive impact on the environment. “As a manufacturer of box springs and mattresses, we contribute quite a lot to the ever-growing waste streams. We wanted to assume responsibility and make sure we will have a positive impact on the environment in the future,” said Valerie Veldeman. “We see sustainability not as an obstacle but as an opportunity. We are long-term natural thinkers as a family company, and we have always been very concerned with quality. Sustainability is in line with our DNA,” she added.
After this idea arose, the R&D team got complete freedom to entirely rethink how they design and produce box springs and mattresses while keeping the same quality and developed this innovation from scratch. By giving complete freedom to the R&D team, you see that this company wants to do whatever it takes to make it more sustainable.
“Keeping the comfort and the design at the same level, they were asked to aim as high as possible in terms of eco-design and end-of-life possibilities.”
The innovation of vel__you impacts our entire collections. “Our goal is to switch all our collections to the “vel_you production manner.” This is happening step by step,” Valerie said. But it is a very long process and not all the collections are yet switched, but they want to do this as soon as possible.
Furthermore, innovation also had an impact on society. The production methods Veldeman uses for this innovation are more accessible and approachable than the production methods of the classic sleeping system, and these methods are more complicated. Therefore, the company can offer a broader range of people because less-skilled workers need to produce the vel__you. With this innovation, the company gives people more opportunities to work for their company.
Of course, the most significant impact of the innovation is on the environment. “Because vel_you is circular, the impact on the environment is tremendous. We will stop manufacturing products that become waste." Valerie explained.
The innovation is long-term significant for the environment because the new product line ensures no pollution.
We are gaining more and more success with the customers commercially since sustainability issues are becoming more critical every year. Because of the success of the vel_you sleep system, their innovation is also profitable in the long run because there is a growing demand for sustainable products.
The stakeholders reacted positively to the innovation plan and the sustainable strategy. The vel_you implementation in the other products can ensure that they will still exist long-term. This way, they strengthened their bond with the stakeholders in the long run.
Veldeman also focuses on the well-being of their employees. “They feel that they are working for a company that is truly concerned with the environment, that’s ambitious, and that thinks about the future,” Valerie said. There is a positive impact on the engagement level of the employees, which in its turn benefits the company.
As a sustainable company, they are focusing on some of the 17 SDGs; number 8, which concerns good jobs and economic growth; number 9 that concerns innovation and infrastructure; number 11, sustainable cities and communities; number 12, responsible consumption and number 13 which concerns climate action.
Since 2020, Veldeman Group can call themself SDG Pioneer, and they are currently participating in the SDG Champion track. To become an SDG Pioneer, you have to obtain the VCDO (Voka Charter Duurzaam Ondernemen) certificate within five years and triumphant action for each of the 17 SDGs. After this, you can go for SDG Champion. You have to obtain the VCDO certificate two years in a row after obtaining the SDG Pioneer certificate. Also, you have to realize a pilot project or engagement around transition, ideally concerning the circular economy.
With the innovation of vel_you, Veldeman focuses on several SDGs such as good jobs, innovation, responsible consumption and production, and climate action. The innovation creates new opportunities for Veldeman to attract employees and creates new employment possibilities. Vel_you causes responsible consumption and production because the product is circular. There is no waste in the production process; that is why it is climate action.
A pivotal point of their company is sustainably investing in their employees because they believe that caring for their employees benefits their company, as mentioned before. They permanently invest in a motivational work environment. They make sure there is space for everyone to develop their talents (for example, by investing in a lot of education/training).
“The sustainability goals provide all of us with a framework that is usable and understandable.”
Veldeman provides measures to help people feel safe and respected (for example, they have the Trusted Person system, and they’ve implemented their version of mentorship.) The company devotes a lot of time to communicating openly about its sustainability strategy.
Valerie Veldeman, Sustainability Director
Veldeman Group is a leading manufacturer of bedding in Europe. They manufacture high-quality mattresses for the European market. It is a Belgian based company with a turnover exceeding 70 million euros and production facilities in Belgium and abroad.