From Beach to Boardroom – creating value from plastic pollution

Lars Urheim and Jan Christian Vestre with material samples
Wants to clean up plastic pollution. Norwegian furniture companies Vestre and Ope will make use of ownerless marine plastic in their products.

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.

Producer responsibility

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.

Jan Christian Vestre and Lars Urheim shows sample components made from 100% marine waste
Lars Urheim and Jan Christian Vestre present material samples from the new marine waste composite

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.

Broad collaboration

“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.