Turning trash to treasure on an industrial scale

By Rachelle Dare on in News, Sustainability

The recycled snow plough marker project enters full production!

In 2021, Flokk introduced a limited edition desk chair crafted from recycled snow plough markers. This pilot project was conducted in partnership with the Nordic research institute SINTEF. It exemplifies Flokk’s commitment to sourcing plastic waste for the creation of high-quality furniture.

The release of this special edition chair captured the attention and imagination of key individuals. This sparked a chain of events that culminated in a sustainable supply of discarded snow plough markers for Flokk, while significantly reducing plastic waste destined for landfills or incineration.

The Journey Unfolds

In February 2021, Ivar Opås, General Manager of Våler Vekst, Norway’s largest producer of snowplough markers, discovered an article about Flokk’s chair made from recycled markers. This piqued Ivar’s interest. His organization had been looking find a sustainable solution for recycling the 180 tonnes of damaged markers discarded annually.

Realizing the potential synergy, Ivar reached out to Flokk. Flokk revealed that despite the project’s success so far, it had encountered challenges in acquiring a steady supply of markers. This prompted Ivar to offer his assistance. The stage was set for a collaboration that would redefine the future of snow plough marker recycling.

The Power of Partnership

Around the same time, Kjell Bjorn Vinje, Press Manager for the Statens Vegvesen (The Norwegian Public Roads Administration), stumbled upon an article about Flokk’s snow plough marker chair. Intrigued by the concept, he ordered one as a surprise for the organization’s director general.

As the entity responsible for 40% of Norway’s roads and handling 80% of the country’s traffic, the Statens Vegvesen recognized the importance of environmentally friendly solutions. Kjell Bjorn reached out to Flokk and discovered that Våler Vekst had already expressed interest in collaborating. This led to a meeting where they explored the possibilities of turning their shared vision into reality.

The First Batch and Beyond

The collaboration proved mutually beneficial: Flokk required a steady supply of recycled materials, Våler Vekst and the Statens Vegvesen sought an eco-friendly approach to disposing of damaged markers. The missing piece of the puzzle was securing a sufficient quantity of road markers to enable cost-effective production on an industrial scale.

During the spring of 2021, Våler Vekst initiated the first collection campaign. They urged their major contractors to return discarded markers as part of a recycling scheme. With the help of supportive contractors like Veidekke, who facilitated logistics, they successfully collected 7.5 tonnes of markers. These markers were then processed into plastic chips and transformed into chair components. This utilises 100% recycled material without any additives or virgin plastic.

This initial batch of 7.5 tonnes equates to approximately 2,800 HÅG Capisco Puls chairs.

Due to the unique composition of the raw materials, each yearly “batch” of plastic will have a subtle variation in color, distinguishing each chair’s vintage. The snow plough markers collected in the spring/summer of each year will form the subsequent batch of chairs released the following year.

Paving the Path for the Future

Since 2021, Våler Vekst and the Statens Vegvesen have been working together to expand the collection of snow plough markers. Våler Vekst distributed 200 large bags, each with a 600kg capacity, to various entrepreneurs. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, with a majority of the bags already returned. Although participation remains voluntary at present, both organizations aspire to incorporate marker recycling into future contracts.

Kjell Bjørn Vinje from the Statens Vegvesen explains, “While our current contracts already include some recycling provisions, we aim to encourage our contractors to participate in the recycling scheme by delivering the snow plough markers to Flokk and their partners. Ultimately, our goal is to make marker recycling a standard practice within our contracts. We have hosted several conferences to spread this message and highlight the significant environmental impact we can collectively achieve.”

With increased participation and a steady supply of markers, Flokk plans to use 100% post-consumer recycled plastics across all its brands. By 2030, Flokk aims to use an average of 60% recycled materials in all its chairs, aligning with its sustainability goals.

Christian Lodgaard, Senior Vice President of Products & Brands at Flokk, expresses his excitement about the project, stating, “Being able to transform substantial volumes of waste into highly functional, beautiful products brings a sense of fulfillment to our work.”

If you’d like advice on making sustainable choices for your office, please send us a message or give us a call on 0330 332 0880 to see how we can help.


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