‘Maximum reuse of resources and materials’

‘Maximum reuse of resources and materials’


‘THE GREAT 8 OF CE’ is a blog series in which we ask Gispen employees eight questions about the circular economy. From our managing director to our factory workers, from the receptionist to the Support Manager. Every department is paid a visit, going through all layers of the origination. Transparency is vital for making the circular economy a success, and for this reason we are showing you how we are transitioning towards fully circular entrepreneurship.

The professional’s thoughts

‘Residual waste flows, both biological and technical, shall need to be included in our manufacturing processes as efficiently as possible, where distance and transport systems are key elements to guaranteeing sustainability.’

‘When I think of a circular economy, I think of maximum reuse of resources and materials’

Peter de Boer Industrial designer

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What is the definition of CE in your opinion?

Circular economy stands for maximum reuse of resources and materials. Residual waste flows, both biological and technical, shall need to be included in our manufacturing processes as efficiently as possible, where distance and transport systems are key elements to guaranteeing sustainability.’

What does the circular economy mean to you?

In my daily practice as an industrial designer at Gispen, it is important to know where the resources and materials originate from. The entire chain must be considered in your design, including the supplier, manufacturer and user as well as the return cycle. Design for assembly and disassembly is one of my guiding principles.

How do you apply this philosophy at home?

In 1994, I designed the circular and modular Gispen NEXT programme. This is what I have at home. All the tables, even those for the children, are height adjustable, growing as they do. Tabletops have sometimes been replaced with items from Gispen’s return stock. Even my bed consists of NEXT components. In Amsterdam, where I live, we still have a long way to go when it comes to residual waste flows. We have had a good solution for recycling paper and glass for years now, but separating plastic is something we still argue about at home. I believe it is better to put plastic waste in the same bin, so that the waste incinerator doesn’t have to use any more oil or gas to reach the right temperature, instead of using a lot of energy to clean plastic waste for reuse.

Why are you engaged in this at home?

It doesn’t really matter whether you are engaged in this at home or at work, it’s all about being considerate of the materials we have at our disposal. Ask yourself: do I really need this, for how long and what kind of quality does that require? Can I, perhaps, temporarily borrow the item I need? My own home was built in 1760 and is still in use today, but optimally isolated and converted to LED lighting.

Are you noticing that Gispen is in a transition toward a circular economy?

Gispen’s transition toward CE started a long time ago. All the components of the Gispen Next programme were developed via an LCA computer program. We developed black MDF, which is a good example because we now had a more environmentally friendly material at our disposal for the tabletop. We are currently engaged in a project with ABN AMRO where we are looking for ways to reuse these components for modern workstations for two.

Which country/company/initiative serves as an inspiration to you?

Some great examples are thrift shops and the online marketplace ‘Marktplaats’. You drop something off and bring something with you. The result: a longer product lifespan and less use of materials.

What is the best possible circular service for our clients?

We offer a service, using our knowledge of materials and lifespans, where we offer advice on use and maintenance for the present and the future. What do you actually need and what is ready to be replaced or returned?

Please share your CE success story

I consider CIMO a success story. 40 years of furniture design for Gispen combined with all the experiences of our clients, the feedback from mechanics and CE development starting in the nineties; all this has made the development of the CIMO programme possible. But there are many more CE projects that are worth mentioning. The Alliander project, for example, or the Rotterdamse Schouwburg, where we have refurbished all the chairs from one of the theatre halls after 28 years of intensive use, while retaining all the original components.