Interview- More circular, circular economy and upcycling
We need to take responsibility for our lifestyle and the unbridled consumption of resources in which society finds itself. In this sense, one of the key concepts is the recovery of waste and its reuse, also known us “Upcycling”. We must change the outdated concept of linear economy consume and discard for that of a circular economy that recycles and reuses.
This is the objective and argument of More Circular. A company that tries to put the value of the circular economy concept through its process of taking advantage of plaster waste and its transformation into its Archy line of hanging lamps.
Hello and Congratulations on your project Marten!
Hello and thank you!
-Of all the waste, what led you to choose gypsum as the raw material for your lamps?
When I set out to create products out of waste I didn’t have a material in mind. I investigated construction sites (this was when I was still in New Zealand) and found a lot of the waste was perfectly good plasterboard. I knew plaster can be calcined to make it ‘active’ again and after experimenting for a while I had quite a strong material and it went from there.
- Right now the More Circular catalogue is made up only of the Archy series, whose shapes and structure are basically the same. Does More Circular work for the future on new lamp designs? Will we see another type of furniture or is More Circular just lighting?
Yes now there is just Archy in small and large and the XL version is nearly finished. The idea is definitely to produce different products, not just lighting, because the possible applications for the material are very broad. A new product incorporating moss will be released in the next month or so. It will be called O². Moss is incredible stuff and it fits in with our mission of creating products that have a positive impact. Also we are talking with independent designers that want to design new products for us. The more applications that are found the more of this material can be diverted from landfill.
- Does this commitment to sustainability mean an increase in the cost of the production process and therefore of the product or, on the contrary, is the use of waste a way of reducing costs?
Currently it’s more expensive than using new virgin plaster. We still have much cost and energy reduction to gain by increasing capacity. We receive the waste material free and this is a benefit to our suppliers as they would otherwise need to pay to get rid of it. This could also be factored into our business model but currently we don’t charge. But our goal is not to be competitive with virgin materials, our goal is to add value and change our linear system. By doing this, jobs are created, materials are saved and new products with a story are made.
- The use of recycled raw material is the basis of the circular economy as a strategy towards a more sustainable production system. But is More Circular considering other strategies such as energy saving or product obsolescence as current or future strategies of its production process?
Using recycled raw materials is only part of the circular economy principle. The products should also be designed for disassembly so the materials can be used again at the end of a product’s life. We can take our products back and process the material to make new products again. We are working on a model to reimburse our clients for sending back their used products. Renewable energy is also an important element and we buy 100% renewable energy from our power supplier and have recently installed solar panels on the workshop.
- Let's talk about your country, Belgium Is More Circular an example of a new movement in industry and in Belgian society in general towards sustainability? Do you think that Belgium can be considered a country committed to the environment?
I think that there are very few countries committed to the environment, and Belgium certainly isn’t one of them. However there is definitely a growing interest in a circular economy. Society is slow to change their habits but I believe that even small examples like us will accelerate this change. When people realise that sustainability isn’t necessarily about doing less of everything, but doing things smarter and when society views the success of an economy not just by GDP growth but also growth of biodiversity, quality of air, water and soil and effective use of resources, then industry will adjust quickly. We are in an early stage of transition but I definitely think that when people who want to see change take action, it will accelerate this transition.
Companies like More Circle justify the existence of Ekohunters. Making value proposals reach everyone with this commitment to sustainability, for a new social model of consumption endorse Ekohunters and its commitment to inspire this change. More Circular is one of these commitments and we are proud to be able to show the world that there is another production model and people as inspiring as Marten Van Leeuwen and his work.
Visit their store and don't wait for others to tell you about More Circular.