Yay, We’re Going to Have Benches Made from Marine Plastic 

Plastic in the waters is still a big problem that needs urgent solution. There have been more initiatives to reduce mitigate this matter, thankfully, but it still seems unending. Maybe these benches made from marine plastic can help. 

Vestre together with Ope and Rune Gaasø, took the initiative to set up Ogoori. It’s a company that aims to clean up the plastic waste from our oceans and recycle it for use in furniture design. 

They’ve launched COAST bench. As you can probably tell, they’re made entirely from ownerless marine plastic collected by Ogoori. In turn, Vestre leases from it. 

Not many want to recycle/upcycle marine plastic. Because, turning it into something like new like furniture takes a complex and time-consuming process. Not to mention that it requires substantial resources as well. 

COAST is Vestre’s example of what we can achieve through collecting marine plastic and use it to create something completely new. 

Allan Hagerup is the one who designed the first marine plastic bench in the world. “It’s an inspiring and gratifying task to design a bench that uses plastic collected from beaches with the help of volunteers. 

“So it feels really good to have created the first bench from this material for Vestre, and to contribute to sustainable development with a product that will be accessible to everyone”, said Hagerup. 

Marine plastic bench 

This bench is not purely plastic. It has some other material like steel. But, it’s hot-dip galvanised and powder coated, with seating surfaces made of plastic collected from Norwegian beaches.  

Therefore, COAST is a solid bench that can endure outdoor use in marine environments. Hagerup explained that the project has largely been about the plastic itself and the story behind it. 

That guided him for both the form and the design process. The circular economy of reusing material has also been a focus throughout the whole process. We all know that plastic ending up in the ocean is a bunch of rejects from the society and are not included in the controlled cycles. 

Hagerup said, “To visualize this cycle, it made sense to create a product that communicates with the ocean. Coast is intended to be placed on a jetty on the waterfront or on a rocky archipelago, so you can sit on the bench and look out over the sea.” 

You can also see the plastic’s history through the shape of the bench. From the front, you can make out the outline of a boat’s hull and the plastic parts lie in a row. They’re submerged in the protective steel frame, giving the impression of floating on the surface. 

The steel frame extends upwards on thin legs and lifts the plastic material onto a pedestal. “The design has been kept as simple as possible so that it doesn’t take focus away from the marine plastic,” said Allan Hagerup. 

Not an easy material to work with 

During the development, Vestre firstly produced a prototype of the bench. Its raw material is not new and not as high quality as new plastic raw material. They did all the tests, for instance for toxicity and UV degradation. They want to launch these benches on the market in a limited edition by 2021. 

 Hagerup said, “When the material is of variable quality, it is important to consider what happens to the plastic over time outdoors. To prevent erosion, the plastic parts must be replaced at regular intervals.  

“Through a deposit system or through a lease with regular servicing by Vestre. The frame is therefore shaped so that it is simple to replace the plastic parts as needed. Of course, the used plastic is recycled again and turned into new products.” 

Collaboration with Ogoori and other industry players 

Vestre worked together with others who contribute in different ways to making the project possible. Among them is the circular furniture manufacturer Ope and In The Same Boat organization. The latter plays a role in collecting large amounts of marine plastic (through volunteers).  

Other than that, Empower also helps with tracking the plastic and its origins, thanks to its blockchain technology. 

Due to the unique contribution and commitment from all those involved, Ogoori stands out from the others. It can offer the market a traceable plastic raw material with a guarantee of origin. 

Meaning, the material is 100% ownerless marine plastic. Everybody ensures that every little piece of plastic has been picked up by volunteer or professional beach cleaners, so that it doesn’t litter, pollute, get eaten or broken down into microplastic in the future. 

Vestre CEO Jan Christian Vestre said, “The world is currently in a transition period and Vestre hopes that Ogoori can act as a showcase for how the correlation between growth and resource consumption can be broken.  

“The development of Ogoori will be important for the rest of Vestre’s work and can hopefully inspire other industry players too” 

Similarly, from bigger corporates 

Before, IKEA AND HP Inc. joined a group of retailers tackling ocean pollution through their supply chains. They joined a collaborative effort called NextWave Plastics, to minimize the amount of marine plastics by upcycling them. 

NextWave Plastics collects those items from countries spanning Indonesia, Haiti, Chile, Cameroon, Denmark, and the Philippines. Then, it transforms them into raw materials for member companies.  

The full member list includes Dell, The Lonely Whale, Bureo, GM, Herman Miller, Interface, Trek Bicycle, Humanscale, IKEA and HP. 

Through this effort, NextWave Plastics hopes to divert at least 25,000 tons of plastics from the oceans by 2025.  

This collaborative effort was a response to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 14. It seeks to conserve and sustainably use oceans, seas, and marine resources. 

Dell chief suplly chain officer Kevin Brown said, “As we’ve become more engaged in the challenges facing our oceans, it’s become increasingly clear that the solution to marine plastic pollution requires bold innovation and open collaboration. 

By 2025, NextWave Plastics will start sourcing plastics from at least three more countries. Previous press release revealed that it was eyeing Taiwan, India, and Thailand for this expansion. 

But as the network adds new locations with the same pollution problem, NextWave hopes to find innovative uses for the plastic it collects. They want to experiment with different types of material and design to lead the way towards more sustainable manufacturing. 

 

Sources:

https://vestre.com/us/news/the-world-s-first-bench-made-from-ownerless-marine-plastic  

https://www.greenmatters.com/business/2018/10/25/SbioC/next-wave-plastic-ocean-pollution  

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