From linear to circular

Linear reality

The economy, understood as a system of satisfying the needs of society, cannot suddenly cease to exist. This is our place of work, meaning our sense of security and agency. What needs to change is how we manage that which is already in place.

In simple terms, the linear economic model goes from extracting raw materials, which are then used to manufacture goods, which are used until they are thrown away as waste. The linear model has been functioning since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. It would seem that in those times no one reflected on the fact that, firstly: natural resources are finite, secondly: the enormity of post-production waste, and thirdly: what to do with things we no longer want. About 92% of the world's industry still operates in this model! At the moment only 8% of extracted natural resources remain in the circular economy. The rest becomes waste. A linear system could work if there were fewer of us in the world. Unfortunately, due to global population growth, we have crossed the boundaries of nature’s ability to regenerate. So nature does not manage to renew resources - says Anna Desogus. Therefore, we live on credit, the burden of which will pass to our children and grandchildren.

An opportunity in a circular model

The circular economy, also known as a closed-circuit economy, is a viable alternative that assumes further development, but on new principles: minimizing the consumption of primary raw materials and energy and reducing the amount of waste produced by closing them in a loop of use-recycle processes. Many consider this model to be a carbon copy of natural ecosystems, where nothing is wasted. Each waste product immediately becomes a new building material for subsequent structures. How to translate this into reality in the furniture industry, which we know best?

Furniture. And what next?

We count furniture among our closest surrounding objects. They create our living and working environment. We need them to function, but also to create the atmosphere of a place and reflect our identity. Sometimes we surround them with sentiment and affection. The problem arises when their life cycle ends and they can no longer be repaired.
A sofa, chair or desk becomes multi-component waste. Soon, it will also be very expensive to scrap, as fees for large-size rubbish unsuitable for recycling are increasing.

Circular furniture

Poland is the second largest furniture exporter in the world and the first in Europe***. How mass producers function will greatly affect the quality of life of future generations. The concept of a circular economy is strongly focused on the design stage, as the impact on the natural environment can be determined in as much as 80%.
Firstly, we think about how many functions a chair should have and how to reduce the number of components to leave only those functions and those parts that are really necessary. Fewer parts – lower weight, less consumption of raw materials and thus less CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.
Secondly, the right choice of materials is important. Instead of natural resources, we choose secondary materials, which not only reduce the world's mountain of rubbish, but with subsequent processing consume much less energy and produce significantly less CO2.
We, as Profim, design a chair so that during use it is versatile, durable, and easy to renew by, for example, changing the upholstery to keep it in use as long as possible. However, at the last stage, i.e., at the time of disposal, the chair must be easy to disassemble into component parts to throw into recycling containers for plastic, metal, or paper with a clear conscience, from where they will return to circulation.

Mass change. What about the consumer?

When it comes to the consumer, they just want their needs to be satisfied. However, exactly how those needs are met is the responsibility of those who design and produce," explains Anna Desogus from Circular Together. It is important that any new proposal is competitive in terms of price and gives the same comfort as the one to which the customer is accustomed. – Producing on a large scale, we feel responsible for the global ecosystem. This is why we are changing old habits to the new standards of a circular economy, because in mass production every good change is multiplied by the thousand– says Magdalena Borowiec, Marketing Director.
One circular design can bring big change in different ways: save natural forest, as we will forgo plywood; reuse tons of plastic waste that will go into production instead of landfill; reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as secondary processing consumes significantly less energy. And finally, one chair can replace several chairs throughout its lifetime due to: durability, refreshability and timeless design.

New is coming…

*Source of all Anna Desogus quotes: "Webinar. Gospodarka cyrkularna - od degradacji do regeneracji". Experyment Science Centre in Gdynia, 30 September 2021.

**Agreement agreed at COP 21 in Paris, 12 December 2015.

More on this topic: "Polska wróciła do meblowania Europy. Po załamaniu w pandemii widać jeszcze ślady.”,, May 27, 2021