'You get drawn into this mindset'

'You get drawn into this mindset'


‘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

When I think of reuse, I think of all the 20.000 furniture components that we have given a new purpose in numerous Dutch offices. What is better than being able to distinguish yourself as an organisation while contributing to a better world at the same time? This is one of the best things about my job. It also changes your personal outlook on things. I have become more aware of how I do things at home.

Maikel Ruijs Sales Manager

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What is the definition of CE in your opinion?

In essence, it is all about reusing your resources and materials, about product loss prevention and less waste production. Fortunately, sustainability has taken a more prominent place in society – this is noticeable in many areas. Both in office environments and at home. People look upon their property differently. Is it necessary to own these items? Or can you take part in a sharing economy? As innovator in sustainability, we find it most important to invest in a circular economy and to bring others along for the ride whenever possible.

What does the circular economy mean to you?

From a business perspective, I see it as an opportunity for us to distinguish ourselves in the field. We invest in products that have a minimal strain on the environment, such as the CIMO furniture concept that we recently put on the market; a circular and modular furniture collection. When I think of reuse, I think of all the 20.000 furniture components that we gave a new purpose in numerous Dutch offices. What is better than being able to distinguish yourself as an organisation while contributing to a better world at the same time? This is one of the best things about my job. It also changes your personal outlook on things. I have become more aware of how I do things at home. You get drawn into this mindset, but it is also great fun to do things in a sustainable way.

How do you apply this philosophy at home?

I drive an electric car, we are considering the installation of solar panels on our roof and we sort most of our household waste. We keep a vegetable garden, so we can grow and eat our own vegetables. You get a different outlook on the world because of things at work, clips you watch and conversations you have with, for example, Willemijn Peeters van Searious Business. This makes you realise that things aren’t infinite. I truly believe that investing in sustainability is the future – or even the present.

Why are you engaged in this at home?

Once you start living more sustainably, you find out what you can really gain from it or reversely, what you would lose if you would stop doing it. The amount of plastic you collect once you start sorting, for example; so many bags in a week, or even a month’s time, mind-boggling! I get annoyed by shops that still give out free plastic bags, or all those wrappings that are covered in other wrappings. Seeing how far you can take it at home has almost become a competition. I’m encouraging my friends and family to start sorting their household waste. I even gave my sister a 3-compartment waste bin for her birthday. People often need that one push to change their mindset.

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

Yes, in everything. Transition means journey. Gispen has been on a journey across the world of the circular economy and I’m confident enough to say that we are leading the way in our work field. We have brought many circular projects to completion and are deliberately investing in circular products, such as the new CIMO furniture programme and the 95% recycled SETT sofa.

To further expound on SETT: you probably won’t sell a whole lot more of these sofas so you won’t make any more money on it. This considered, you really do it for a different reason, which has ultimately led us to our sustainable motive. It is a product development process that reflects who we want to be. And who want to become our colleagues. We are not promoting CIMO as yet another affordable furniture programme. No, it is a clever, well-designed and sustainable furniture programme. This is a new trend; there used to be a strong demand for furniture programmes that could be purchased as cheaply as possible. We are in the middle of a changing market. This transition is also clearly visible in the sheer number of colleagues that are working on that one circular goal. It is present throughout Gispen.

95% gerecyclede SETT bank | Gispen

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

I was closely involved in the Alliander project, right from the start. This was quite remarkable. At Alliander, every single person has the same sustainable vision, from management down to the hostess. From thinking to acting. From manufacturing up until using the furniture, on all fronts. There is usually only a small group of people within an organisation that really puts sustainability into practice. Others don’t even think about it. This was different in Alliander’s case which is why it is such a great example, but I also see good things happening within the Dutch Government. Take, for example, their recently published circular tender; initiatives like this really set things in motion. Large players can really influence other companies. And they have pulled it off.

Circulair referentieproject Alliander | Gispen

What is the best possible circular service for our clients?

If everything works out as planned, Gispen will be able to provide clients with a full ‘pay per use’ furnishing of CIMO products. The client will only pay for using the work environment and, should requirements change, we will make sure the necessary changes are made to the interior so that the new requirements are met. Whether these requirements are aesthetical (such as different colour schemes per season) or functional (from sit to sit/stand workstations), we will always provide our clients with this flexibility as well as a minimum waste of energy from the supply chain. CIMO has been developed in such a way that its functionalities can always be altered at a later time. We don’t even need tools to do so anymore.

Please share your CE success story

This is neither a process or a story for me. It is the complete change of Gispen’s DNA. Sustainability has, of course, been one of our core values for quite some time now. And yes, we have been making well-made and durable products from the start. We have always looked for clever, sustainable production methods. Take powder coating, for example, which we have perfected in such a way that we don’t even need water for it. But what we are doing now is on a whole different level.

Every week I still see colleagues change from a traditional to a circular way of thinking. Not only those in the sales or marketing department believe in it; it has also influenced the engineers, mechanics and factory workers. They have really caught the bug. I’m very proud of that and we will continue to invest in this endeavour, because this can only become a success if everyone is dedicated to it. What I’m trying to say is that this goes beyond a sales pitch. It comes from the very heart of Gispen. That is the only way to be successful in the long run.

Thank you, Maikel. To whom will you pass on ‘THE GREAT EIGHT OF CE’?

I would like to give center stage to one of our young professionals. Egbert Bos has accomplished a great deal with the NS project. I am curious to see his reaction to the great eight.