Advancing Sustainability in the Slovenian Wood Industry: A Report on the Preliminary National Workshop 

Oct 17, 2023

In the pursuit of a more sustainable and environmentally responsible future, industries around the world are making strides towards integrating circular and eco-friendly practices into their operations. The wood industry, a sector that relies heavily on natural resources, has been no exception. In this context, the Wood Industry Cluster in Slovenia has taken a significant step forward by hosting a Preliminary National Workshop, under the umbrella of WP4 – T4.4, on September 27, 2023, in Ljubljana at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia. This workshop, titled “Circularity in the Wood Industry – Goals, Tools, Examples from Practices,” was designed to inform Slovenian woodworking companies about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives and identify companies interested in transitioning towards more sustainable practices. 

The Preliminary National Workshop was meticulously structured, with an agenda that addressed various aspects of sustainability in the wood industry: 

Green Concepts: The workshop began with an exploration of fundamental sustainability concepts, including sustainability, circularity, and regeneration. Participants gained insight into the underlying principles that guide sustainable practices. 

Green Agreement for the Wood and Furniture Industry (ESPR): The second segment of the workshop introduced the Green Agreement for the wood and furniture industry, focusing on the European Sustainability, Productivity, and Responsibility (ESPR) framework. 

How to Prepare: This part of the workshop delved into the necessary steps for transitioning to a more sustainable approach. It highlighted key factors such as awareness, knowledge, transparency, credibility, responsibility, and effective communication. 

Circular Design of Products: Emphasizing the importance of product design in circular practices, participants explored how to design products with a focus on reusability, recyclability, and sustainability. 

Circular Business Models and Strategies: The workshop offered insights into developing circular business models and strategies, enabling companies to align their operations with sustainability goals. 

Tools: Participants were introduced to various tools and resources available to support them in their sustainability journey. 

Examples from Practices (Best Practices): The workshop provided real-world examples of best practices, illustrating how other companies have successfully incorporated sustainability into their operations. 

To ensure an engaging and interactive experience, the workshop was conducted using multiple tools and methods. These included a PowerPoint (PPT) presentation to provide a structured overview, the Slido application for real-time interaction and polling via smartphones, the use of a flipchart for visual representation of ideas, and an example of a material made from recycled materials, providing a tangible illustration of circularity in action. 

The 14 participants were divided into three groups, representing different facets of the wood industry: chairs, cupboards, and windows. This segmentation allowed for detailed discussions on how circular principles could be applied to each product category. The participants actively engaged in debates on the initial steps required to produce circular products and shared their insights on potential challenges and how to address them. 

The workshop received positive feedback from participants, who expressed satisfaction with various aspects, including the content, the lecturer, the materials provided, and the overall organization. Notably, the examples of best practices and detailed directives resonated strongly with the participants, leaving a lasting impression. 

One of the workshop’s key objectives was to empower participants with the knowledge and information needed to incorporate sustainability into their work environments. The insights gained will inform the development of company strategies for projects and marketing, as well as the creation of new business models. Companies have expressed a willingness to explore opportunities for implementing circular economy principles in various stages of their production processes. The workshop has also sparked heightened interest among participants in monitoring Slovenian directives and legislation related to sustainability. 

In the aftermath of the Preliminary National Workshop, two companies have tentatively expressed interest in receiving 20 hours of coaching, though this commitment is not yet fully confirmed. These companies are poised to embark on a journey towards greater sustainability in the wood industry, aligning their operations with the principles of circularity and eco-friendliness. 

In conclusion, the Wood Industry Cluster’s Preliminary National Workshop has marked a significant milestone in advancing sustainability in the Slovenian wood industry. By fostering awareness, providing practical tools, and showcasing real-world success stories, the workshop has planted the seeds of change and set the stage for a more environmentally responsible future in the industry.