June 5 marks World Environment Day, the five-year anniversary of the NextWave Plastics initiative and news about a new chair by member company Herman Miller.
You might want to sit down for this one. The Sayl Chair is made using almost a pound of mismanaged plastic found near waterways.
Herman Miller estimates 326 metric tons of ocean-bound plastic will be diverted from the ocean annually, the equivalent of 32 million water bottles. The chair, by Swiss designer Yves Béhar, was released in Europe in 2022 and will now be available in North America, Asia and Latin America.
NextWave also has teamed with nonprofit The Circulate Initiative (TCI) of New York and Singapore with an aim of “advancing industry collaboration to build socially responsable, sustainable ocean-bound plastic supply chains.”
In other words, that means keeping lots more plastic from reaching the seas. Which is right in line with the theme of 2023’s World Environment Day: Solutions to plastic pollution.
Social Responsibility Framework
TCI, which has its own Responsible Sourcing project, will work to improve and scale the adoption of NextWave’s Social Responsibility Framework to protect informal waste workers. Those are the folks responsible for the majority of the world’s recycling.
The path for taking the framework to the next level involves identifying locations where help is needed and making investments, says Michael Sadowski, executive director of TCI.
“We bring a good network, a lot of technical expertise around recycled plastic,” Sadowski says. “We’re excited to make those connections.”
More details are forthcoming, but investments in places like India could involve better processing equipment, which would make work more efficient and raise wages for informal workers.
He adds, “We’re excited to do things around hard-to-recycle plastics—the stuff that’s ending up in oceans.”
NextWave was founded in 2017 by nonprofit Lonely Whale and Dell Technologies. Other member companies include CPI Card Group, Humanscale, HP Inc., IKEA, Interface, Logitech and MillerKnoll. Polyvisions Inc. is the latest member to join, described as a specialized custom compounder turning polymers into material solutions.
Billions of Water Bottles
Besides pointing to the new partnership with TCI, the new chair from Herman Miller and the new Polyvisions member (not to mention World Environment Day), NextWave is looking back at its accomplishments.
That includes collectively diverting 20,477 metric tons of plastic, the equivalent of almost 2.3 billion single-use plastic water bottles, from entering the waste stream. That number is more than 80% of a goal of 25,000 metric tons by 2025.
Herman Miller’s Sayl Chair isn’t the first one made using ocean-bound plastic. An Aeron Chair was introduced in 2021 by the Michigan-based company. It’s one of hundreds of products from NextWave member companies.
“When we started NextWave Plastics five years ago, we knew we needed a collaborative, cross-industry partnership to make a meaningful impact,” Oliver Campbell, director and distinguished engineer at Dell, said in a statement.
“Today, we are a trusted community of dedicated individuals and companies who prioritize the future of our planet, our oceans and the communities impacted by our work. Our progress is a reflection of the cooperation, collaboration and creativity of our partnership.
“In this time, NextWave member companies have developed more than 330 products using recycled ocean-bound plastics and, in the process, have built a model that demonstrates how environmental impact can be reduced across industries at a commercial scale.”