More sustainable seats thanks to eco-design and circular business models
Discarded furniture represents 42.7% of the non-selectively collected bulky waste in Flanders. Of all the furniture, upholstered seats are also the most complex and diverse in terms of material use and construction.
With the REFURN project, furniture manufacturers Drisag and Indera want to contribute proactively to an economically and ecologically interesting solution for this problem. We want to stimulate the reuse of upholstered seating, its components and materials by focusing on two pillars. On the one hand, we want to look for feasible circular business models that stimulate sustainability and reuse within the market. On the other hand, we want to focus our attention on ecodesign guidelines that can promote the lifespan and reuse of our seating. We have tested these guidelines on two existing seats and they can serve as a basis for the (re)design of existing and new seating collections.
We have adapted the design of two existing upholstered seats according to ecodesign principles to optimise their reuse and lifespan, both fully and partially.
After researching the most feasible circular business model, Indera mainly wants to pursue a product-service system with lease contracts, while Drisag wants to offer a sale-and-buy-back formula to buy back furniture after use for an agreed residual value.
We have compiled our ecodesign guidelines into a publication for the furniture sector. In this way, we can also inspire and stimulate other producers to (re)design their own collections for maximum reuse.
A circular business model within our companies also has an impact on our partners. By looking for suppliers who supply more sustainable materials with a longer life span, we encourage other links in the chain to think more circularly.
MOST IMPORTANT LESSONS LEARNED
The ecodesign guidelines that focus on the product life cycle were the most accessible and approachable principles to take the first step towards more circular seating. The importance of that first step cannot be underestimated and often initiates all kinds of innovative side effects.
Consumers are not yet fully convinced of some circular solutions and need to be made more aware of them. Users still see 'refurbished' furniture as second-hand, of inferior quality and cheaper. Also, the market is not yet ready for a circular product-service model.
The residual value of the seat plays an important role, but is very variable and is influenced by all kinds of factors: material, trend sensitivity, intensity of use, etc. This is still a barrier to the optimal deployment of a circular business model.
In order to continue to guarantee the quality of the furniture in different periods of use and to valorise the efforts made in the field of ecodesign as much as possible, producers want to control the entire chain, from production to reuse, as much as possible themselves.
561furniture companies reached
5value chain workshops
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
Thanks to this project, Drisag is convinced that the transition to circular solutions is an important added value and necessary for a sustainable future in the furniture sector. The company wants to remain at the forefront and has committed to a new project to take REFURN developments to the next level and find solutions to the current barriers.
Indera is looking to better commercialise its ecodesign seat by participating in the creation of a wider platform for circular design. The seat is a circular part of a total furnishing solution for a specific segment of the hotel market. The participation in the Interreg project ECY-TWIN also offers Indera opportunities to further develop this part of its development trajectory.