Promoting Circular Innovation in the Furniture Industry
On 8 February, Wittenborg Research Centre hosted a Circular Economy Workshop at the Brinklaan campus in Apeldoorn, which was open to students, staff, alumni and interested members of the public. This workshop emphasised circular innovation in the furniture industry, a subject area addressed by the Erasmus+ funded project INFURI, in which Wittenborg participates as project coordinator and partner with eight other project partners from nine different countries across Europe.
The Circular Economy Workshop coincided with Dutch Circular Economy Week 2023 (Week Van De Circulaire Economie) from 6 – 11 February, an annual week of events at both local and national level which promotes circularity in business and entrepreneurship. These events take place through “circular hubs” - knowledge hubs and networking organisations that highlight interesting projects, entrepreneurs and partnerships that accelerate the circular transition. In the Gelderland and Overijssel region, one such circular hub is Cleantech Regio, which aims to strengthen the sustainable and circular economic development of the region and to create connections between circular initiatives in education, businesses, and entrepreneurship.
On behalf of Wittenborg Research Centre, Aydan Ismayilova, EU Project Manager & Junior Researcher, kicked-off the workshop by introducing the work and activities of Wittenborg Research Centre, such as providing a knowledge repository for Wittenborg lecturers, researchers and students, Erasmus+ project participation, and hosting project and research related events and conferences. She also gave an overview of the INFURI project, including the anticipated results of the project, namely, a research paper on circularity in the furniture sector, a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), a book of lectures, the creation of a multi-actor circular network, and a set of circular procurement guidelines for office furniture.
Ismayilova also highlighted some examples of sustainability and circularity in practice at Wittenborg, such as the new student housing building with its sustainable solar energy and A++ energy label; the reuse of secondhand furnishings like framed pictures for offices/classrooms bought from local second-hand store Foenix, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) incorporated into the quality education and teaching given by Wittenborg faculty to students in modules and as part of Project Week.
Next, Selina White, Education & Research Administrator at Wittenborg Research Centre, presented the main interactive workshop exercise to the participants, which was to work collaboratively in groups to discuss the importance of a selection of sustainability criteria to a business or end user. The different sustainable criteria were introduced and explained, such as certifications, water consumption, traceability, recyclability, industry processes/applications, take-back, packaging, VOC emissions, short supply chains, bio-based material, durability, carbon footprint, chemical compliance and renewable energy. Workshop participants were given a deck of 15 sustainable criteria cards and asked to rank each criterion according to low, medium and high levels of importance. Afterwards, the participants presented their own views and justifications for their rankings and openly discussed circular strategy.
Overall, the workshop was well received and participants learned more about circular and sustainable innovation and how they can be mindful of it in their studies and how they can apply it in real-life situations. To learn more about the INFURI project, please visit the official project website and follow the project LinkedIn page.
By Selina White