One is specialised in the creation and manufacture of paper and non-woven tablecloths for the world of table decoration. The other is an adapted work company (ETA) offering services in packaging, woodworking and carpentry, metal and plastic work and epoxy applications.
As part of the Wanderful.Stream project, these two neighbouring companies are working together to produce firelighting blocks from the two companies’ waste streams: the sawdust produced by the Atelier Les Gaillettes, and recycled and compressed waste paper from Pacarbel.
Beyond waste recovery, a social and collaborative project
Meeting with Niels Delbrassine, Quality Manager of Atelier Les Gaillettes
The Entreprise de Travail Adapté les Gaillettes welcomed the Wanderful.Stream project with two concerns.
The first, inherent to the missions of the adapted work company, is above all social.
“We want to allow our staff to work on a project that has a different added value.” Niels Delbrassine, Quality Manager at Les Gaillettes.
As subcontracting is the company’s main activity, the project to recycle waste into firelighters is also an opportunity for ETA to develop its own product, which can be manufactured directly by its staff thanks to a low-tech process and appropriate supervision.
The company’s second concern is to accelerate its transition to the circular economy, to match its vision of a modern, competitive and resource-efficient company.
Although sawdust is the only waste generated by the company – the raw material is returned to customers in its entirety once it has been processed and packaged by the ETA – it is nevertheless an important area to work on.
“For several years, we have been paying particular attention to the recovery of waste but, above all, to the fact of producing less and less of it: reduction of the quantity of offcuts, recovery of non-conforming products… Wanderful.Stream allows us to take a further step in this direction”.
Niels Delbrassine, Quality Manager at Les Gaillettes.
The project can now be accelerated thanks to the skills of the technical, business and design experts who challenge the ideas of the employees while drawing on the strengths and resources present within the ETA. According to the Quality Manager, Wanderful.Stream really guides the company in its transition thanks to the confidence inspired by the coaches without whom, in his own words, this project could not have progressed so quickly!
Circularity: a corporate responsibility and an indispensable standard for remaining competitive and retaining retail customers.
Meeting with Patrick Schyns, Quality & Security Manager at Pacarbel
Of the 2,500 tonnes of raw materials it processes, Pacarbel generates between 8 and 10% waste, i.e. around 200 tonnes per year (half of which are raw paper fibres and the other half cellulose and plastic fibres).
Solutions for disposing of this waste do exist, but their recycling and traceability often remain opaque.
But, according to Patrick Schyns, every company has a responsibility to know what happens to its waste:
“We currently work with licensed companies that recycle our waste, but what do they actually do with it? Are they really recycled? We do check the provenance and quality of our suppliers’ raw materials, but what about the traceability of our waste?”
Patrick Schyns, Quality & Security Manager at Pacarbel.
The company has therefore set up an action plan to optimise its production process in order to reduce its waste. However, this ambition is hampered by the speed requirements of the retail sector. Pacarbel’s potential for action therefore lies in limiting the ecological impact of its waste.
While ecological responsibility is the basis for its participation in Wanderful.stream, the company is also motivated by the need to remain competitive in the market and to stay ahead of future legislative, safety and environmental standards.
“The regular audits carried out by certain large retail customers force us to evolve in this direction. The environmental aspect is an essential point on which it is necessary to work in order to continue to supply this sector” Patrick Schyns, Quality & Security Manager at Pacarbel.
The icing on the cake is that the project will enable the company to work in a short circuit with its neighbours at L’Atelier Les Gaillettes. This will stimulate synergies at regional level!
The designer, present on all fronts
Meeting with Thomas Billas and Thea Hallak, designers and founders of Studio-Workshop HIER
Thanks to its expertise in eco-design, the Brussels design studio HIER has been appointed to accompany the two companies.
Their design process starts with a thorough understanding of the need and the specifics of the project before embarking on the search for solutions. This is an opportunity for designers to question project leaders, to understand the directions in which they wish to go, but also to challenge their business choices and to draw their attention, as early as possible, to aspects of technical feasibility.
Thomas Billas also points out:
“One of the challenges when working on a waste recovery project is the development of new, specific and sophisticated tools to process the waste and convert it into new products. Often the necessary machinery does not yet exist and each type of waste requires specific tools.
In the search for solutions, the role of the designer is multiple: development of new tools, organisation of tests, adaptation of the machines, iterations, production of the first prototypes, etc. In addition to the technical challenge posed by the two partners, there is the desire to have the firelighters produced by the staff of the ETA: the machines developed will therefore have to be adapted to the workers’ skills.
A low-tech research project that is sure to excite the design duo!
The circular economy, a transition for all types of businesses
A low-tech research project that is sure to excite the design duo!
The EKLO team makes its business expertise available to the participating companies by working with them through the steps involved in creating a new business.
After validating the feasibility of the project by analysing the composition of the waste and the legal framework in which the product fits, the project team will study the market and evaluate its various development prospects according to the resources available (HR, infrastructure, investment). At the end of the project, the EKLO team will be involved in the development of a marketing strategy for the product launch.
Pauline and Nicolas note that some companies are reluctant to embark on a circular approach. The main obstacles identified are linked to a lack of knowledge about the circular economy and the development opportunities that arise from it, whether in terms of innovation, synergies or new markets. Other companies simply do not know how to implement these approaches in their business models.
“The firelighters project demonstrates that any type of company, whatever its size, sector or economic model, has the capacity to embark on a circular approach and benefit from virtuous synergies on a local scale. The collaboration between Pacarbel and Les Gaillettes shows that it is possible to think outside the box by daring to diversify your activities!
Nicolas Schils, researcher and low carbon – circular economy referent at EKLO