Paper furniture and interior decoration? The Swedish company Kinnarps, founded in 1942, believes in it. She is thinking about it with several partners through the “Designed for recycling” project. The first beta models, two removable walls, are even already ready. What may seem like a crazy dream can turn out, given the environmental situation and the climate impact of the sector, quickly become a pressing necessity. So why does the furniture industry, including office furniture, have to revolutionize and where is it? Response elements.
A sector that must reinvent its production
Textile fibers, especially from cotton, are highly valued by the furniture industry. The latter is particularly appreciated for its insulating qualities and as a sofa covering. However, today, in the world, 90 million tonnes of textile fibers are consumed per year. Due to the growing world population, this number is expected to double by 2040. Other textile fibers, such as nylon and polyester, have a major negative impact on the environment. As for cotton, there is hardly any space left to plant it. In addition, its culture and transformation also raise questions. Due to the high consumption of water and the use of chemicals in its cultivation.
This is why it is urgent to find commercially viable alternatives to cotton and synthetics. Which could be paper, a material that is both natural and recyclable. We have always made wood-based fabrics, especially bamboo or hemp. Kinnarps, specialist in solutions for offices and public buildings, thus wishes to develop textiles made from recycled paper.
Ergonomic and ecological furniture
All this through the “Designed for recycling” project. Project in which Kinnarps collaborates with Swedish Smart Textiles and thirteen other Swedish companies in the forestry, paper and textile industry. The idea is to develop a production cycle in which the (office) furniture and its constituent parts are made from paper from Swedish forestry. Because Kinnarps is also participating in a program promoting Swedish wood. By trying to find new applications and sustainable outlets for it.
The furniture will then be recycled to make textile fibers again, which will then be reused for production. Two fabrics, made from pine and fir, have even already seen the light of day. Kinnarps designed with prototypes of removable walls. The padding is made with paper yarn, the core of a firmer paper structure. To facilitate their recycling, the constituent elements can be easily separated from each other. Intelligent closures also facilitate the assembly and disassembly of the walls.
A clear and assumed ecological approach
“Things are clear: at Kinnarps we want to focus on products that can contribute to the transition to circular construction and therefore to better protection of the environment”, says Katrijn Vekens, Marketing Manager of the Belgian department. The Swedish manufacturer, clear in its approach, has also imposed strict specifications on its suppliers. And frequent audits to make sure they meet it.
Kinnarps therefore does not do greenwashing. Unlike many companies wanting only to ride the environmental wave to continue to make profits without reducing their ecological impact. What to reconcile two worlds that everything opposed in the minds of people. It is now hoped that the Swedish manufacturer’s initiative is the first in a long series.