In the early morning of Monday 15th June, co-founder of Ope, Lars Urheim and Iselin Nybø, the Norwegian Minister of Trade and Industry met to discuss circular economy and regenerative business development. The meeting was arranged by Norwegian Research Council, for the occasion on scenic Sola beach, to highlight the problem of plastic pollution.
Together with Norwegian Retailers’ Environment Fund, The Norwegian Research Council has co-funded Ope’s project to turn ownerless ocean plastic into furniture. The project is now turned into a full-fledged daughter company, called Ogoori, co-founded with furniture company, Vestre.
On the sunny beach, Urheim and his team have set up Ope’s reusable and multi-functional modular system that is made up of panels to adapt to a variety of configurations based on the layout and the changing needs of the users. Their circular design with this system can be turned into a mixture of shelves, seating units, and space dividers.
Urheim handed over a jar of plastic pellets to Nybø from their first production of Ogoori’s 100% ownerless marine plastic made by Noprec – Norwegian Plastic Recycling. Then they performed a “digital handshake” through an app using technology partner, Empower’s blockchain technology. Minister Nybø will hold onto the granulate until Ope are ready to include it in design objects for homes and offices.
Blockchain technology ensures that the origin of ocean plastic is traceable and transparent. Information of the materials is stored on the blockchain app all the way from the collection point via recycling, production and use phase, as well as through future use cycles of the ocean plastic products.
National broadcaster NRK was present at the meeting, where both Urheim and Nybø were interviewed. The minister calls for more businesses to “think innovatively” to tackle climate and environmental challenges. Ope was selected by Norwegian Research Council to showcase an innovative company that is working towards the circular economy.
“It is really worthwhile to use ocean plastic in the circular economy and make a new product out of it, so that the plastic can have a new life. This [Ope] is a great company that is thinking in new ways and is thinking about being climate- and environmentally friendly,” said Nybø.
Ope’s ambition is to set an example for progressive, responsible, and profitable business practice that aims to regenerate damaged nature and create a negative environmental footprint.
Ope was asked by SHE Conference to furnish the stage using our sustainable and reusable modular system. The system allows for a great variety of options, as it is designed for redesign and adaptability.
The theme that was chosen for the SHE Conference is called “Transformation”. Ope framed the sofa so that speakers like Gro Harlem Brundtland, Kristin Skogen Lund and Berit Svendsen could have a more intimate chat, and to reflect the theme. On-site adaptations to match the conference needs was an easy fix as the system allows for last-minute creative fancies and design modifications.
Ope continuously pushes the boundaries of circular economy, and now offers a furniture system exclusively on a “Furniture as a Service” model for the B2B market. But that is just the beginning. Ope has joined forces with their partner, Vestre to launch Ogoori, a company that offers plastics that is 100% ownerless marine waste on a ‘Material as a Service’ model.
Our goal is not just closing the loop, but to clean the planet, and store all the lost plastics in human objects forever.
Why was Ope at SHE Conference? Ope has always focused on circular design, and leverage diversity and female leadership within our field.
Could you think of using our circular designs for your home, office space or anywhere? Simply hit us an email at email@example.com.
Photos below show how the Ope modules are showcased at the SHE Conference’s main stage and exhibits.
Furniture manufacturers Ope and Vestre with beach cleaners, industry and customers as partners, kick off Norway’s most ambitious collaboration to clean up after half a century of marine plastic pollution.
The BIG cleanup
Ope and Vestre, together with Environmentalist Rune Gaasø, have founded the company Ogoori, which will offer traceable plastic raw materials collected from the ocean with a guarantee of origin. A large fraction of the plastic is collected by volunteers from all over the world, through the organisation In The Same Boat on their cleanups along the Norwegian coastline. The 100% ownerless ocean plastic will be tracked through blockchain technology from technology partner Empower. The goal is to upcycle 500-1000 metric tons of ocean plastic to new raw materials in 2020 alone.
The Ogoori company name draws inspiration from Captain Oguri Jūkichi who returned to Japan as a hero, having been lost at sea longer than anyone else in history. Just as he returned to Japan as a hero, the reclaimed plastic that we’ve considered valueless should be treasured for its return from nature. Through Ogoori, the lost plastic will find new value through technology, storytelling and circular economy.
Regenerative Value Chain
“For two centuries, economic growth in the world has been driven by the consumption of non-renewable resources, with 90% ending up as waste after a short time. This is far from sustainable, and an emerging “sustainable” business community is not close enough to rectify the damage that has happened,” says Lars Urheim, initiator of Ogoori and CEO of Ope AS. “Sustainable means “in balance”, but we can’t celebrate balance in a world where 60% of wildlife is lost, greenhouse gases remain in the atmosphere, and the last remnants of untouched nature are eaten up by irresponsible industrialization and development. Sustainability is not enough any more, we need to dig deeper for solutions.”
Ope and Vestre both aim to be at the forefront of the race to be the best at sustainability, and it is natural to work together to reach the goal. With Ogoori, we take it a step further and establish what may be the world’s first company to deliver “Material as a Service” through what we call a Regenerative Circular Value Chain.
What we need now is a massive restoration of degraded nature, and reviving materials that have gone astray. That’s where re-generativity comes in. If we are to have growth in the economy, we must manage to achieve it by cleaning up everything that has gone astray; whether it is returning industrial areas to nature, the extraction of CO2 from the atmosphere, or the cleaning up of plastics in the sea.
This last thing is what Ope and Vestre want to solve through Ogoori, and the principle we call PCS “Plastic Capture and Storage”, an analogy to CCS “Carbon Capture and Storage”. PCS means treating plastic in nature as an oil by-product that needs to be collected and stored in man made objects in infinite to stop it from polluting the environment ever again.
Showcase to inspire
“The world is in a process of restructuring, and Vestre hopes Ogoori can become a showcase for detaching from the correlation between growth and resource consumption. The development of Ogoori will be relevant to the rest of Vestre’s business, and hopefully will inspire other players as well, ” says Jan Christian Vestre, CEO of Vestre.
Ogoori represents a community of beach cleaners, waste-, plastic- and finished goods industries as well as their customers, who jointly take responsibility where others have not, and create a truly regenerative and sustainable economy.
It has been assumed that the ownerless ocean plastic has no value, as it is broken down by sunlight, mechanical wear and consists of a mix of different plastic materials. In addition, it is difficult and expensive to clean it up and recover it. A challenging starting point if profit is the motivation, but it is not, even though the Ogoori founders see the economic value in a market where brand reputation is closely tied to the chosen materials of their products.
The high cost is resolved by Ogoori simply not selling the material. Marine plastic is made available to the industry through a rental model, where the long life of the plastic ensures a manageable price for the customer. – “We have checked with researchers we work with, and dare to claim that we are the first in the world to offer raw materials as a service, at least raw materials that are cleaned up in nature”, says Ogoori co-founder and chairman, Rune Gaasø.
New value from lost resources
Ope and Vestre also know that this plastic carries something that neither new plastic nor re-circulated plastic from households and industry has, namely a strong history. The plastic is lifted out of nature piece by piece by volunteer and professional beach cleaners through a huge joint effort so that it will not waste, contaminate, be eaten by marine species or broken down into microplastics in the future. Our customers can help facilitate and become a part of this story, by looking after the plastic and at the same time experience the added value that good product and service solutions entail.
Rasmus Hansson, Head of The Norwegian Retailers Environment Fund (HMF) states, “The Norwegian Retailers Environment Fund supported the Ope project from “From Beach To Boardroom” in 2019. We are very pleased that the project is now expanding to an industrial level for re-processing the plastic material to new products in a circular model.”
And while it might be tempting to think of this story as a financial gold mine for the owners of Ogoori, that’s not the goal. The goal is to create exponential growth in the cleanup, and therefore all the profits from Ogoori will be returned to more cleanup, as long as there is plastic left in the sea. The initiative for the establishment of Ogoori has grown out of the close relationship with the beach cleanup community, where volunteerism and public support is the backbone of the cleanup.
We have no desire to exploit volunteers and government support to make money, but will take a role in evolving these initiatives to create a financial result that can be reversed to ensure even more ocean clean up. Ope’s ambition in taking this initiative is to achieve growth with a negative environmental footprint.
Increasing producer responsibility, means less plastic pollution. Ope, IVAR and Vestre have jointly established the project From beach to boardroom. A tangible measure on the part of the business community to address the challenges associated with plastic in nature.
The business world has long made a good profit, having unlimited access to our planets limited resources. The results of this can be seen today with the looming global environmental catastrophe. “We want to show the way for the future business community. It is untenable to simply continue as before. The actors engaged in commerce today must take responsibility where our predecessors have not. The business community now needs to find ways to create value by rehabilitating damaged nature.” Says Lars Urheim, General Manager of Ope.
The From beach to boardroom project will take plastic that has gone astray out of nature, and into Norwegian design objects meant for commercial buildings and public spaces. A value chain will be established that places the collected plastic back into a usage cycle and ensures it is kept there.
Research and block chain
Through a preliminary project in 2018, the research institute SINTEF verified for the parties and then partner Fjord Fiesta, that ocean plastic is functionally capable for use in products. The collaboration now also includes the block chain company Empower. Empower has developed a block chain based system for documenting the origin of plastic. In this way, precision and trust are attained in where the plastic was collected from. This safeguards the project’s purpose and ensures that it is ownerless plastic that is being included in the new value chain.
Plastic with purpose
The plastic will subsequently be tagged with the history of precisely where and by whom it was collected. This will make it possible to follow it all the way from the beach to, for example, the board room of the company purchasing it. Through procurement from this value chain, a direct contribution is made to the needed global clean-up. At the same time, one can enjoy quality Norwegian design products – such as Ope’s unique shelving solutions. The From beach to boardroom project will create value from the plastic pollution that today is a global problem.
“We are already co-operating with actors throughout the entire value chain. Still we have plenty of room for companies that wish to shoulder their share of the responsibility by choosing products from ownerless marine plastic for their buildings and properties. Large companies such as Google and Adidas have already decided to only purchase products of recycled material in the immediate future. We desire to recruit Norwegian actors with the same level of ambition to partner up with us. The more responsibility taken, the less plastic pollution. A winning situation for everyone”, says Urheim.
The Norwegian Retailer’s Environment Fund has great faith in the project, supporting it with NOK 2 million. Their contribution will ensure the project being implemented at full scale. The goal is to be able to realize From beach to boardroom during the course of the next year.
When we think about open-plan offices we often picture energetic and social work environments. Enthusiastic people in cool locations. Bright, open spaces where creativity and collaboration flourishes. It’s cost efficient, it’s social, it’s motivating, it’s trendy, it’s the future. And it is distracting. It is stressful, and it can actually decrease productivity. Yet more and more employees are now in open plan offices.
But can’t we just give everyone headphones or muting microphones?
Even though humans are social creatures research show that we need shielding and the sense of private space. The most efficient open plan offices have shielding that is so high that you have to stand to see and contact your colleague.
Did you know that research show that open plan offices can decrease productivity with 15 %? A small distraction can make you lose focus up to 20 minutes! And it can create health issues and increase sick leave. We are looking at high costs!
Not to mention what it does to the environment! An open-plan office is constantly changing and every year large quantums of fully functional furniture and inventory ends up as waste. A lot of it comes from offices. We all know it. But changes to work environment does not have to be at the expense of the environment.
We have many satisfied customers, for example Bergen.Works, who says:
With Ope we have made the perfect solution for our Co-Working space. We have managed to create rooms within a rom – using room dividers which give shielding and help to keep the rooms open and light and inspire to creativity and innovation.
Ope is the new thing within office interior that optimizes people’s environment in open-plan offices. Ope is modular and consists of modules that can be built and taken apart according to need – just like LEGO.
So what separates Ope from others, besides that it is modular?
Our solutions transform open plan offices into good working environments through variety and flexibility. Each module can be open or closed. Giving you endless possibilities to customize solutions for different rooms and employees. Wool cushions act as sound absorbers and bring colour to the interior.
So with Ope you get a Kinder-egg; storage, shielding and sound dampening. You get a room divider without closing off light – and which is open enough so that it inspires interaction. You can also create a room within the room and make social spaces.
The click patent in the connectors is the key that enables you to easily assemble the modules so that you can customize solutions to get the best working environment for your office and employees – and you can rebuild and expand with just a few clicks.
Sustainable design // circular economy
Buildings and interiors are constantly changed by their inhabitants. This process normally costs more than you like and puts a strain on the environment through excessive use of resources. Ope embraces this knowledge, and has created a modular system based on the principles of circular economy.
That is way Ope has a classic and timeless design with components that can be used over and over again.
We have reversed vending for all our used components to ensure that none of our products end up as waste.
We rent out components to businesses that only needs furniture for a short period, thereby reducing unnecessary mass production.
In collaboration with SINTEF and IVAR we will now look at the possibility to create a new composite material of recycled ocean plastic. If we succeed, you will by buying Ope, help clean up the ocean.