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But there is pressure to become greener still. There are various ways to try, from carbon offset schemes to reducing waste.

A big focus is reducing the impact of shipping and delivery – how the items are moved and how they are packed. In terms of packaging there are plenty of more environmentally friendly options such as paper packaging and stiff recycled brown paper as a filler, choosing biodegradable and recycled versions of bubblewrap, biodegradable clingwrap and consider furniture blankets made of recycled material and try to reuse as much of the delivery packaging as possible.

One group doing their bit to promote the ways to be greener is the Gallery Climate Coalition (GCC), a not-for-profit group founded by London-based gallerists and professionals working in the arts launched in October 2020.

It now has more than 800 members including institutions, artists, fairs, auction houses, commercial galleries as well as a wide range of individual professionals from more than 40 countries. It is celebrating its two-year milestone with a new scheme called Active Membership. The category is intended to celebrate members who are taking proactive steps towards implementing sustainable practices in line with its guidelines. These members will have: completed a GCC CO2 online report or audit within the last two years, established and maintained a ‘Green Team’ and published an environmental responsibility statement.

Serious steps

GCC member, logistics firm Convelio, produces its own emissions report. CEO Edouard Gouin added: “We’re taking meaningful action here, and we released our first sustainability report to set the groundwork for how we improve. We have partnered with a developer to design a tool that measures and offsets our carbon emissions.”

Earlier this year Christie’s (also a member of GCC) began trialling moving artworks by sea rather than air with storage and logistics firm Crozier. It has been running a monthly container service for the transportation of artworks between London and New York and between London and Hong Kong.

Christie’s said the London to Hong Kong service is working well and it plans to make changes to the London to New York route into 2023 to mirror the sales and fair schedules to make it more relevant to demand. A spokesperson said: “We are working closely with Crozier, our suppliers and GCC to increase volume sea freight and awareness of the benefits of the service both in terms of cost and emissions.”

Christie’s has also increased its use of re-usable crates and has been testing new products available on the market. It recently tested a new Rokbox lite option and has now placed an order for New York, London, Paris and Milan.

Greg Bradley of Bradley’s Furniture Carriers said: “We have moved to sustainable packaging such as biodegradable shredded wood packing and we are manufacturing our own wooden crates that can be reused.”

He said the crates have QR codes for the recipient to scan for instructions of how to uncrate and reuse. The firm also works with auction house Sworders to offer a sustainable shipping quote for overseas sea freight deliveries.

Efforts are being made but the global nature of art fairs, museum shows and the amount of packaging involved in sending delicate expensive items around the world means the high-end fine art market is still a long way from being truly ‘green’.