We all know that the traditional formula within the linear economy of ‘make, use, waste’ has to stop – our livelihood depends on it - which is why so many architects, interior designers and furniture makers are looking to the circular economy.
The circular economy is one in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible. Once a product can no longer serve its intended purpose, it is then made into another item, minimising the single-use epidemic that is causing so much harm to the planet.
One such example of the circular economy in action can be found in the Spanish city of Girona. Here, you'll find a local Catalan restaurant, 'El Celler de Can Roca'.
Run by three brothers, this Michelin-starred establishments operates a strict zero-waste policy but, for so long, struggled to find a sustainable way to repurpose its large polystyrene containers.
Every day, without fail, six of these boxes would arrive from local vendors, containing that day's fresh seafood. Although polystyrene is known for insulating properties, its status as a non-biodegradable product is problematic and the abundance of polystyrene was causing the restaurant's proprietors a headache or three.
That was until product designer Andreu Carulla came up with an environmental initiative called 'Roca Recicla' and created a functional, modern stool made out of repurposed polystyrene - RR201.
"'Roca Recicla' uses creativity to give a second life to bottles, polystyrene boxes, wood, plastic…turning a supposedly useless object into something useful and beautiful," says Carulla.
Recycling and repurposing a notoriously difficult material such as polystyrene was a new challenge for Carulla, who was born in the town of Banyoles, just north of Girona. As too was keeping the entire production process' energy usage to an absolute minimum. To achieve that, the machine harnesses pedal power to operate and he uses steam generated from a coffee machine to fuse the components together.
To make an RR201 stook, each polystyrene box is first washed, shredded and then bonded into its new, honeycomb-like shape. The recycled seat is then sprayed with a water-tight, durable and eco-friendly coating, enabling it to be used both indoors and out.
'El Celler de Can Roca' hopes to be able to produce one stool per day, with each one numbered with the delivery dates of the original polystyrene boxes
It’s not surprising at all that RR201 won the IED Madrid Design Award for Best Eco Design last year.
"The form was dictated very naturally," Carulla continues.
"Because we had to create something that contained the exact materials of six boxes, a stool was a perfect fit. We knew we'd be creating quite a few so the shape had to be useful for flexible use: a stool, a pedestal, a sidetable...and therefore modular to create large surfaces if wanted, hence the hexagonal top."
The shape of the stool is also a nod to both the restaurant and the materials used to create it.
"Anecdotally, the six sides of the hexagon alludes to the face that it's made from six boxes."
Lovingly handmade, these stools are believed to last a lifetime. It is initiatives like this that will help counterbalance the waste and pollution created from other industries.
Here at Creatif, we know know we have a part to play within the circular economy. We evaluate our environmental impact and we constantly explore the ways we can reduce, reuse and recycle.
We also recycle the timber from our moving wall panels, aluminium tracks and the cardboard and plastic from external packaging. Throughout our office, we use low-energy lighting where possible, and we're proud to say the lighting in our Cube and Seclusif units are energy efficient.
We also work closely with suppliers that have uphold their sustainable, environmental and social responsibilities, with many of our partners hold green-related certifications, such as FSC and PEFC .