OCCE: The 100% Recyclable Office Chair
Comfrac Green Energy
The Office Chair for a Circular Economy (OCCE) project takes place inside a well-known manufacturer of office chairs from Romania. The market for office chairs is a huge market, totalling over €100 billion annually, but it is also a highly unsustainable market. Trends led to a practice of fast furniture throughout, where introducing new designs almost on a seasonal basis has overthrown the logic of building to last. Moreover, due to the amount of materials combined in a single chair, over 80% of the resources used in every office chair are lost after end of life. This calls for a rethinking.
The OCCE project will focus on rethinking an existing office chair from the manufacturer, Antares. The chair will be rethought from the principles of circularity, replacing non-recycle with recyclable parts, lowering the variety of materials used and ways in which they are connected, and developing a process for circular assembly, disassembly, and reassembly.
To realize this, the OCCE project will use a set of technological interventions from Comfrac Green Energy in the manufacturing process in order to retrieve data from the current process through a mix of own technologies from the technology supplier and APPS from the Better Factory catalogue.
The artist ENRICHERS will take the existing chair and explore how the chair can be made circular: what materials can be used? How can parts be recycled, disassembled, and reassembled? Can the chair maintain its ergonomic qualities once circular? How can as little media and few materials as possible be used in mono-stream ways?
The team faces the following main challenges:
- Supply Chain Complexity: Identifying and sourcing recyclable materials, as well as ensuring their consistent availability, can be challenging. Supply chains for sustainable materials might not be as mature or well-established as those for traditional materials.
- Material Compatibility: Designing a chair with recyclable/reusable parts requires careful consideration of material compatibility. Some recyclable materials might not work well together or might have different structural properties compared to traditional materials.
- Manufacturing Constraints: Adapting manufacturing processes to accommodate new materials and design features can be complex. Manufacturers might need to invest in new equipment or modify existing processes, which could impact production timelines and costs.
- Cost Implications: Implementing circular design principles is costlier due to the need for new materials, processes, and potential changes in production methods. Balancing sustainability with cost-effectiveness might be challenging for all parties involved.
- Design Innovation: Redesigning an existing product while adhering to circular principles requires innovative thinking. The product designer needs to strike a balance between functional, aesthetic, and circular design elements.
- Technical Expertise: Developing a process for circular assembly, disassembly, and reassembly can be technically complex. The design must have the expertise to create solutions that are both effective and feasible for implementation.
- Consumer Education: Introducing a new, circular product might require educating consumers about the benefits and proper use of the product. This is especially important if the product’s usage, maintenance, or end-of-life procedures differ from traditional products.
- Market Adoption: Introducing a product that aligns with circular economy principles might require educating the market about the value of sustainability. Convincing customers to choose a circular product over alternatives might be a challenge.
Overcoming these challenges requires a combination of creativity, innovation, collaboration, and a commitment to sustainability. Each party involved in the project will need to adapt, learn, and iterate as they work towards successfully delivering a circular office chair that aligns with the project’s objectives.
The OCCE project’s expected outcome will be a series of demonstrated experiments with data-based insights with parts, materials, connections and combinations which lead to a circular replacement product for the current linear office chair of the manufacturer. In addition, it will tell the story of how other chairs from the manufacturer and office chairs from other manufacturers can embark on the path of circularity and away from fast furniture.
Specific impacts expected are:
- Create a 100% circular and recyclable office chair
- Reduce production costs
- Reduce emissions by 55% with the new design and production methods of the Boston Chair
- Ensure the product is 100% energy neutral is to ensure that transport is carried out with renewable energy