Introducing the Circular Office: Fill the Office – Not the Landfill
Tons of office furniture end up in landfills every year. Perfectly usable pieces that with a little love and care could have lasted for decades.
Ever since the days of the Industrial Revolution, humanity has embraced this linear model of economics, which involves extracting resources from Earth, making things from them, and dumping those things when they become surplus to requirements. This model has generated jobs and lifted many people’s living standards – but it also has created the climate crisis, driven biodiversity loss, and left behind mountains of waste.
But now we’re running out of both resources and ways to dispose of waste. That’s why we need to transform our linear way of thinking to a more circular approach, turning trash into treasures.
NORNORM’s purpose and vision is to apply a circular approach to office interiors. To offer flexible, affordable, and inspiring work environments through using, and reusing, resources intelligently in order to promote the well-being of employees, businesses, and the planet.
In this article, we aim to tell you how we want to achieve this – and why it’s necessary.
“We want to be the catalyst of change to circularity in the workspace industry. NORNORM is part of the progressive market meeting the demands and experiencing strong growth. NORNORM is not just a concept, a company, or a service — it is a new and circular way of doing business.”
– Anders Jepsen, CEO of NORNORM
Our Inspiration for Thinking Circular
A circular economy aims to redefine growth, focusing on positive society-wide benefits. It entails gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources, and designing waste out of the system. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural, and social capital.
It is based on three principles:
• Design out waste and pollution
• Keep products and materials in use
• Regenerate natural systems
A great source of inspiration for NORNORM in bringing circularity to the office are the ideas supported by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The foundation aims to inspire us to re-think, re-design, and build a positive future through a circular economy.
The current system is no longer working for businesses, people or the environment. We take resources from the ground to make products, which we use, and, when we no longer want them, throw them away. Take-make-waste. We call this a linear economy.
…TO CIRCULAR ECONOMY
It’s a new way to design, make, and use things within planetary boundaries. Shifting the system involves everyone and everything: businesses, governments, and individuals; our cities, our products, and our jobs. By designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems we can reinvent everything.
“We have started with a subscription-based furnishing model, but with this in mind we hope to expand our circular approach into a collective discussion about the way we design our spaces, what we think about business and the ways in which we work together. This is just the beginning.”
– Anders Jepsen, CEO of NORNORM
How we do it
NORNORM’s circular business approach offers access to quality furniture and adaptable workspaces at an affordable price. By choosing to subscribe instead of buy, you’re taking an important step towards reducing the carbon footprint of your operations. When there is no longer a need for certain pieces of furniture in your office, NORNORM will not retire or scrap them. Instead, they will be refurbished and reused, prolonging their lifespan.
NORNORM’s products can continue to be used and still meet our premium quality standards. Timeless designs add to the circularity of the concept since they never go out of style. Products that previously lasted 3 years can now last for 30.
The NORNORM subscription model and traditional furniture purchases are compared, considering the climate impact throughout the lifecycle of the furniture. This includes assessing events like furniture production, transportation, refurbishment, and other factors that contribute to the total life cycle climate impact.
Transparency for NORNORM customers
We focus on many circular and sustainable goals at NORNORM, but increasing transparency has been a big priority for the last year. We have created a new feature, showcasing an easy-to-read estimation of climate impact that can be avoided when opting for a circular solution.
The CO2 climate impact and waste avoided using the NORNORM service compared to traditional linear buying is presented to potential customers in their design proposal, and on the subscription page for our active customers. At NORNORM, we want to provide climate impact information early in the decision process, so our customers can take this into account when deciding on their office furniture and clearly see the impact of their decisions. Creating awareness and knowledge around the topic of circularity is very important for us. For our current clients, this information could be used for their annual climate impact reporting.
The customer proposal provides an indication of the annual climate impact and avoidance (in kilograms of CO2) when comparing subscription-based furniture usage to traditional buying. The comparison is based on the same set of furniture in the two models(linear and circular). The calculation takes into account the furniture we have drawn into your office design. Additionally, it highlights the furniture waste savings (in kilograms) achieved through subscription, where we divert furniture waste from landfills and incineration into recycled and harvesting of reusable components.
For our active customers, we provide the same comprehensive overview, also including an accumulated and avoided climate impact from the start date of your NORNORM subscription. Changes to the furniture in their office are considered based on the current average use of changes across our customer base, once per year, but we are working on including the actual number and details of your changes in order to provide more accurate information for our customers.
“We wish to create impact. In order to do so, we need to appeal to the many, not the few. The core of our concept is to offer circular and attractive office interiors that are accessible to many companies. That is how we can become changemakers and make a real impact. That is why we have created a highly affordable subscription model that requires no investment or long-term commitments.”
– Anders Jepsen, CEO of NORNORM
At NORNORM, we are on a mission to actively contribute towards creating a better planet. We take great pride in presenting the climate benefits of the NORNORM service, which not only aims to support our customers in achieving their climate targets but also aligns with our commitment to environmental guardianship. It is important to note that this model is an initial step in showcasing the differences between subscribing and buying.
We remain dedicated to continuously enhancing it, leveraging insights gained from the climate impact and use of our service, as we strive to reduce emissions along our value chain and make a positive difference for our planet using innovation and technology. Transparency is an important part of our sustainability journey, so with this proposal, we aim to give more insight into our ideas on sustainable offices. Providing more information on climate impact is a first, but very important step in our dedication to be a circular business.
If you want to learn more about our circular approach, contact one of the NORNORM team or take a look at our website.