The sustainability of production processes and materials, from a circular economy perspective, is an important development lever for furniture companies, not only as an integral part of the common European strategy on the environment, energy and climate for 2050, but also because it constitutes a concrete advantage in terms of competitiveness.
Sustainability is today applied and systemic research. And the companies' investments range from the use of new recycled and recyclable materials, especially deriving from secondary raw materials, to their adaptation in internal production processes, to the creation of new supply chains and inter-sector partnerships.
There has been a recent collaboration between Kartell and illycaffè in the development of a supply chain of plastic from the capsules of the Trieste company. When these arrive at the illy production line to undergo preliminary drilling before filling, the automated controls reject those with incorrect drilling or incorrect packaging.
But these scraps are top quality plastic, which is therefore collected by Kartell, ground and made into injectable granules.
The first seat in this material is the Re-Chair, designed by Antonio Citterio, for now only in the black variant, but the partnership will evolve soon in other products and colours.
However, not all recycled plastics can be ennobled and used in printing processes that guarantee the high standards of quality and resistance of high-end furnishings. This is the case of many bioplastics, deriving from renewable and organic raw materials such as corn, wheat, sweet potatoes, sugar cane, algae or vegetable oils, used above all in packaging but not as structural materials.
In fact, there are few companies that have already experimented with the use of bioplastics in the production of furniture. Among these Kartell, the first to have used, in 2018, a vegetable polymer from sugar cane waste, and Magis which this year, with the Alpina seat, bets on a new injection-molded bioplastic: a polypropylene deriving from used cooking oils.
A bet that will open the doors to interesting research and circular economy scenarios and to new supply chains between furniture and the agri-food sector.
The Danish Mater makes sustainability its driving objective. It recently patented a material deriving from coffee waste from the local roastery BKI (about 8%), industrial recycled from internal production and plastic waste from the industrial processes of Grohe (about 22%) and recycled glass fiber (about 70%).
It is a complex material, which has implied the development of new machinery and processing technologies, today used in the Eternity seat and in the 1958 re-edition of chairs and tables by the famous Danish designer Børge Mogensen.
Waste plastic, domestic in this case, is the material behind the Juli Re-Plastic chair, designed by Werner Aisslinger for Cappellini.
The polypropylene comes mainly from used packaging and allows a reduction of CO2 emissions by approximately 54%.
The shell is loaded with recycled and recyclable fiberglass. Like the first version from 1996, a pioneer in the use of rigid shell polyurethane foam, a technology borrowed from the automotive sector, so Juli Re-Plastic wants to mark a new experimentation by the company in the field of sustainability.
ecoBirdy, founded in Antwerp by Vanessa Ybuan and Joris Vanbriel, developed in 2018 a recyclable plastic material called < strong>ecothylene, used in a collection of children's furniture and toys. Today it creates seats and tables for indoors and outdoors starting from waste plastic materials such as the internal parts of abandoned refrigerators, experimenting with new local supply chain economies.
The aesthetics of the products is born precisely from the colors and textures of recycled materials, for example, in the Frost table the top recalls the idea of a frozen surface as a reminder of the product from which it comes.
While the top of its limited edition evokes the image of the contact lens blisters it is made of, over 5,800 per piece, highlighting the importance of recycling and the impact of our daily actions.
With the Second Life project, which sets guidelines in the design and production processes of its furnishings, Natuzzi intends to rethink the world of mobile with increased awareness.
The result is the Terra pouf, designed by Marcantonio: resting directly on the floor, it has no internal structure and is made entirely with recycled Pet foam, covered with sustainable fiber fabrics . These coverings arise from the collaboration with the Dutch studio Byborre, which created Gaia and Origami for the Apulian company.
The first, produced by Coronet, is a 'vegan' fiber that comes from GRS certified recycled plastic and FSC certified wood viscose.
It has a texture similar to leather because it is made with a process that recalls tanning. Origami, on the other hand, is a fabric mainly made of Japanese paper fibre, worked in the absence of chemical products and combined with a flocked nylon chenille. It has a linen-like feel and important fire-retardant qualities thanks to the paper, which does not create combustion but immediately turns into ash.
If Byborre transforms plastic and wood fiber into fabrics, the Japanese Paneco, specialized in the recycling of textiles in the fashion sector, transforms clothing waste into a solid material with which to make furniture, bookcases and displays. The panels are made up of 90% textiles and various fibers such as leather. With a workability equal to panels in faced wood, those of Paneco can be recycled at the end of their life, collected and reprocessed as fiberboard and then recycled again.
On the subject of ennobling wood waste, Giorgetti proposes the decorative coating Anthology, developed with the art director Giancarlo Bosio starting from the processes of processing by the same company. The remains of the multiple veneers are combined together on the covering panels for doors and walls, enhancing and exalting their biodiversity. A graphic game of inlays which recalls Renaissance floors and which brings with it the memory of the workmanship and the artisanal know-how of Giorgetti products.
From the enhancement of proximity production to the exploitation of decentralized resources.
This is the case of Gervasoni which, using solid teak, grown exclusively in South Asia and usually worked on site, is industrialized to make this process less impacting on the environment and more favorable for the local economy.
The Jeko collection, designed by Paola Navone, is made with teak from the reuse of beams and elements recovered from demolition of traditional wooden houses of the island of Java, Indonesia.
These elements are cut to size, repaired with recycled wood, assembled, smoothed and finally polished by hand with hemp cloths and shavings.
"This year the Compasso d'Oro was won by a refusal" is the slogan chosen by Saib to communicate the prestigious award received for the Ostuni finish and the associated panel, created exclusively from end-of-life wood (Rewood).
A 100% regenerative economy that achieves another milestone: the Mathera panel, designed by Diego Grandi, characterized by a thin layer (4 microns) of wood dust, stone and quartz, mixed with resin binders, which gives the panel a resistance to knocks, scratches and friction superior to ceramic materials.
With a texture that recalls sedimentary rocks or split stone workings, Mathera is a new design tool, for applications that were previously impossible for regenerated panels, such as worktops or kitchen tables. Mathera, in turn, can be 100% recycled.