To demonstrate what recycled plastics can do, Fortum has developed a chair made from recycled plastic, produced from post-consumer plastic waste in a registered process called Fortum Circo.
The self-rising Virén Chair is inspired by Lasse Virén, a Finnish long-distance runner who fell in the middle of the 10,000-metre final in the Munich Olympics. Despite this setback he got up and won the gold medal, setting a new world record in the process.
“The story of Lasse Virén – and especially his legendary win in the Munich Olympics – is still inspiring for many of us. Our ambition was to honour comebacks, progression and resilience through the Virén Chair and to show what can be achieved with recycled plastics today. Furthermore, the Virén Chair pays respect to Finnish design with characteristics of plastic furniture developed in the 1960s by Finnish designers,” says Jussi Mälkiä, Brand Manager at Fortum.
The chair has been developed with the collaboration of professionals in several fields, including engineers, physicists and researchers, among others.
Recycling numbers need urgent improvement
By 2019 only 9% of the plastic waste ever generated had been recycled, and in 2019 only 14% was collected for recycling (source: UNEP). The real problem lies in the deficient waste management systems, not the plastic material itself.
“Plastic is in many ways a superior material that is hard to substitute. The consumption of plastic is growing globally all the time; the discussion around plastics should instead focus on how to increase recycling. We should make sure that the value of the material is preserved by recycling the plastic and converting the waste into reusable material whenever possible,” affirms Anniina Rasmus, Brand Sales Manager at Fortum Recycling and Waste.
Fortum wants to expand the use of recycled plastics by developing recycled plastic compounds. In this process the qualities of the recycled plastic are enhanced so that the compounds can be used for products that are more technical and challenging in terms of production, of which the Virén Chair is a good example.
“The Virén Chair is made from Fortum Circo® recycled plastic compound reinforced with cellulose fibre to strengthen the material and reduce its carbon footprint. The carbon footprint of Fortum Circo® recycled plastic is about half that of virgin plastics. The added cellulose fibre, originating from renewable sources, also absorbs carbon, further reducing the carbon footprint of the material,” Rasmus points out.
Lasse Virén’s story it the type of “still I raise moment” we all love to remember. It is hard to think of a better inspiration for a self-rising object that has the objective to solve a big problem.
And the use and disposal of plastic is a big, big problem. We have no doubt that we need to tackle it relentlessly in both fronts: use less, recycle more. Clearly, we are not doing well enough in either. Without losing determination, we have to get going and accelerate as quickly as possible towards our goal.
Beautifully designed objects with a great story and an important mission can help raise awareness for this important quest.