innovation

New method helps businesses make their products circular

25 April 2019 • 4 min reading time

Sleep specialist Beter Bed has recently introduced a box-spring that is largely circular: most components can easily be disassembled and recycled. The company has taken on the objective of making an increasing part of its range sustainable. TNO has developed a scientific method for establishing the circularity of products and was closely involved with the design of the box-spring.

Interested in circular production?

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Marcel Ernes

The IMPACT method (Integrated Method of sustainable Product Assessment for Circular Transition) is a tool for manufacturers in a variety of sectors to make their products sustainable. It expresses in figures what savings can be made on resources during the manufacturing process, the degree to which new products are less of a burden on people and the environment, and thirdly, what the economic effects are.

"You don’t just develop a sustainable product, but with your innovative design you are able to penetrate new markets or, as in this case, you create an entirely new business model. A benefit for your company, customers and the environment.”

LESS RAW MATERIALS

“The newly designed Element box-spring by Beter Bed has a score of 58% for circularity, as a whole. When it comes to the use of raw materials, the improvement is 72%, for people and the environment, 60%, and economically, 42%. The first two percentages in particular make an important contribution to the sustainability and the circularity of the product,” says TNO recycling expert Toon Ansems.

‘sleeping Green’

With this product, Beter Bed is exploring new areas, described by CEO John Kruijssen as ‘sleeping green’. Or, with a nod to the notions of software and mobility, ‘sleep-as-a-service’. It is a completely different business model. Customers no longer have to visit the store every few years for a new product; instead, they have a subscription where Beter Bed arranges the placement of a new box-spring. The old one gets removed and the components are re-used, where possible.

“It means we are killing two birds with one stone,” explains John Kruijssen. “We spare consumers the need to remove their beds and mattresses themselves. At the same time, we ensure that beds and box-springs are no longer taken to the local incinerator, but are re-used instead. We are able to do this because all the components and materials in the new design are very easy to disassemble. They are given a new life in a subsequent product.”

CONSUMERS CAN INFLUENCE CIRCULARITY

In general, many mattresses today go to the waste processor or are simply fly-tipped. Many people only get rid of them when they are completely worn out or if they lead to sleeping problems. According to Kruijssen, eight years is the maximum lifespan, but in the new scenario, Beter Bed would like to supply consumers with new products after five years.

“Customers can select the elements that their box-spring is to be made out of, and therefore influence circularity. You can also have components replaced by us ‘part-way through’. We relieve consumers from any hassle and reduce the burden on the environment.”

"We are now extending the lifespan of many components. The working partnership has led to outstanding results.”

HIGH-QUALITY RECYCLING

”For the design of the new box-spring, TNO experts worked closely together with Beter Bed experts and the supplier. Applying the TNO IMPACT model brings into sharper focus the circularity of consumer goods, while more incisive circular design choices are made clear in design processes in a timely manner. Toon Ansems: “Beter Bed was really keen to take major steps in making their products circular. But to do that, the whole design had to be completely reconsidered. Making it easy to disassemble meant dispensing with the usual adhesives and staples. It is now a type of click-system which makes it easier to put everything together – and to take it all apart again. For each stage and idea, our experts were given the task of calculating what the effect in terms of circularity would be. Far fewer raw materials like water and oil are now needed for the production of the box-spring. Modifying the design and using other materials has resulted in the weight being reduced by over twenty percent. Foam and fabric can now be recycled into high-quality products, and we are currently extending the lifespan of many components. All in all, the working partnership has led to outstanding results.”

"The IMPACT method has really proved itself here, but there is actually an endless range of products where it could be used.”

Beneficial for company, consumer and environement

“The great thing about this achievement is that TNO experts have found a really sustainable solution together with our supplier that has not affected the high level of sleep quality,” says John Kruijssen. “Businesses in every sector are fully engaged with sustainability, and we want to play our part in our sector too. As market leader, we know we have a responsibility. Together with TNO, we now made our first circular product. We will have to follow through with much more products in our range. And if it’s a success in the Netherlands, I foresee a roll-out to other European countries where we operate.”

Toon Ansems: “The IMPACT method has really proven itself here, but there is actually an endless range of products where it could be used, from furniture to washing machines, and everything in between.” As a manufacturer, there are many different benefits to be had from this. You don’t just develop a sustainable product, but with your innovative design and the circular design choices, you are able to penetrate new markets or, as in this case, you create an entirely new business model. A benefit for the company, customers and the environment.”

Interested in circular production?

Contact us

Marcel Ernes
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