In a world where labeling is everything, our process is met with a severe handicap: We cannot measure our carbon footprint. There is no method to measure the impact of products made from materials from the waste stream.
For linear production processes with a defined starting point, the carbon footprint of a product is measured in a Life cycle analysis (LCA).
A LCA can measure the carbon footprint of a chair made from wood directly from a forest or a timber plantation. It maps the environmental impact of process the wood went through from the tree was cut till the planks were ready to use in the furniture factory.
When we use waste materials, we cannot determine where they came from or the impact they had in their previous life cycles.
This results in better LCA scores for furniture made from virgin resources, than for furniture made from wood from the waste stream.
Obviously, this is not correct.
– We need a new method to measure the impact of waste materials.
Pieter Van Tulder, 2050 Furniture designer
Another structural obstacle we meet, is that there is no well-established system that makes wood from the waste stream easily accessible. There is already a very well-developed system for wood from forests or timber plantations. Big machinery can drive on steep hills and cut trees, that can be sold as dry planks in the shop two weeks later.
We need a structure where clean wood from the waste pile is as easily accessible as wood from the conventional structure. The biggest problem in waste wood is dirt, metal, and toxins. We must find ways to detect, recognize, remove, and extract it efficiently.
In many cases the wood and lumber are slightly re-dimensioned when it is cleaned. To come up with a new set of standard dimensions, especially developed for the end product of a waste stream, would be an interesting idea.
Due to the lack of a supply chain for waste wood, we have to make our own base product directly from the waste pile. We remove dirt and metal and re-dimension the waste wood before we can use it in our production. Our furniture process in other words includes a recycling/lumber process. In today’s market that is a disadvantage, and it needs to be solved with for example material banking. Material banking is an extension of the conventional waste management structure. In a material bank we can sell waste material for direct use, reintroduce atypical materials prepare waste materials to be sold as usable again.