Sustainable Innovation

From waste collector to raw materials supplier : van Gansewinkel launches cradle2cradle office paper

The Gansewinkel Group (The Netherlands) has recently launched its new product : Van Gansewinkel office paper, powered by Océ : the first office paper in the world that is cradle2cradle certified. The product launch is remarkable, as the van Gansewinkel Group has, over the years, developed from a traditional waste collector to a supplier of sustainable raw materials and energy supplier.

Van Gansewinkel Office Paper, cradle2cradle certified, reducing 100% wood consumption, 85% water consumption, 72% electricity use and reducing 53% CO2 emissions compared to standard office paper

Why did the Van Gansewinkel Group develop its own office paper ?

Florens Slob, Marketing manager at the van Gansewinkel Group states : Our motto is ‘Afval Bestaat Niet’ (or in English : There’s no such thing as waste). We make all efforts to give waste a second life as a raw material or as a product. By analyzing our customers waste streams we identify how their waste can be re-used for the development of other products or as an energy source.

We have noticed that a large proportion of our customers waste consists of paper and cardboard. Of which a substantial part is high quality office paper. Recycling paper for newspapers and tissue paper is yet common practice. However, our challenge was to close the product cycle for our customers and offer both a service for shredding and recycling ‘old’ office paper as well as developing  ‘new’ office paper that could be used again.

How has the new office paper been developed  ?

The new office paper has been developed according to the guidelines of the scientific Cradle-to-Cradle institute EPEA. The development is a result of a close partnership with the document management and printing system supplier Océ and sustainable paper producer Steinbeis. Van Gansewinkel brings in used and shredded office paper provided by its customers. Paper producer Steinbeis produces the office paper. Océ contributes with its office paper and media knowledge and distribution channels – That is why the paper is co-branded as ‘powered by Océ’.

Van Gansewinkel partners with Océ and Steinbeis to develop and sell its office paper.

What are the advantages of the new Van Gansewinkel Office paper ?

Functionality & Price : First of all, the paper has a high standard quality for a reasonable price  – just as professional customers expect their office paper to be.

Ecological benefits : Secondly, it offers a number of ecological advantages : The production of the new paper takes up to 83% less water and 72% less energy than standard office paper. The CO2 emission reductions are estimated at 53%. Maybe the most important advantage is that no trees need to be cut down to produce this paper. Mind that 7,5 kg of wood that is needed for 1 pack of standard office paper.  

Is the office paper ready for sale yet ?

Yes it is. Professional customers based in Belgium, The Netherlands or Luxembourg you can contact Van Gansewinkel or Océ :

Is the Van Gansewinkel Group planning to develop more products ?  

Absolutely ! Our office paper is the first cradle2cradle certified product that Van Gansewinkel brings on the market. More products are expected to follow as a result of our partnerships with customers and industry partners.

To name a few examples :  Van Gansewinkel investigates with Philips how coffee-machines can be shredded and re-used as raw materials for new products. It exchanges with carpet manufacturer Desso how used carpets can be recycled, with manufacturer Mosa how broken tiles can be brought into the production processes and with Ahrend how used office furniture (parts) can be reused.

So, certainly : more news to come !

Philips, Desso, Ahrend and Mosa : all partners of the Van Gansewinkel Group.

For more information have a look at : and


Office Furniture Manufacturer Arféo Using Cradle2Cradle Principles

The French office manufacturer Arféo offers a fully sustainable office portfolio. No ‘green product extensions’. 


Arféo was founded as ‘Air et Feu’ in Argenteuil, near Paris, in 1849. The first products of  ‘Air et Feu’ were glass and mechanical tools. The company moved to Chateaux-Gontier in 1961, which is 300 km south west of Paris. Office furniture became core business as of 1967. The company was rebranded in 1999 to ‘Arféo’ (1).

Within Top 5 of French office suppliers. In 2008 Arféo has established a position among the top French office suppliers, with 274 employees, an annual turnover of 30 million euros and three production centers; in Chateau-Gontier (metal plate furniture, 17000m3), in Chinon (wooden cabinets) and in La Pommeraye (melamine and stratified furniture).


Mrs Metivier, Manager Sustainable Development and Mrs Caillard, Directeur Marketing

Colette Metivier is Manager Customer Satisfaction and Sustainable Development. As of 2009, Mrs Metivier is responsible for the companies sustainable development action plans, customer satisfaction and environmental audits. 

Sylvie Caillard holds the position of Marketing Director at Arféo as of 2008. After having covered other marketing and communication positions in the office furniture sector, Mrs CAILLARD is as of 2008 responsible for Arféo’s Marketing and Corporate Communication, including Sustainable Development Communication.

Arféos office furniture portfolio

Arféo produces office furniture (meeting tables, cabinets, lockers). They are made of melamine, fabric, wood (ebenisterie) and steel.


Arféo office furniture and meeting tables  

Customers of Arféo

A variety of public organisations and enterprises are customers of Arféo. Among them La Poste, Mairie de Paris, PSA Peugeot Citroen, Renault and Societé Generale. At the moment, Arféo equipment is well perceived notably of its high quality image and robustness. An increasing number of customers is now favouring Arféo as well because of the sustainable character of its products.


 Some of Arféos customers

Principles of Sustainable Development at Arféo

Fortunately, Arféo has always been honest and very precise about its ecological performance, states explains Marketing Director Sylvie Caillard. The company has never passed a ‘Greenwashing’ stage where ‘ecological promises’ were made without proven facts. The ISO 14001 certification proves this, as well as the many specific facts about the production and end-of-life treatment on the website and the brochures.

Key principles of Sustainable Development. Colette Metivier and Sylvie Caillard explain how Arféo uses different principles to guarantee responsible development :  

1. Measuring and reduction of the environmental impact. Arféo closely tracks its processes, energy and water use and is also calculating its carbon footprint. The objective is to measure and manage all production processes.

 2. Keeping up with national and international standards, as it is ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 certified and production centres are labelled ’ICPE’ (French Label by Ministery of Ecology in France). Arféo is also expecting soon to be certified NF Environnement for its metal caissons and its Sis-Téma portfolio.

 3. Reducing waste by recycling as much as possible. Arféo works closely with suppliers, public and industry  partners to minimise and return materials waste and to minimize energy and water use. For instance Arféo provides an extensive taking back and recycling process in cooperation with suppliers and recycle centers.

3. Developing Eco-Responsible (Cradle2Cradle). All life cycle stages are kept in mind whilst developing products, production and transport : from development phase, via production and transport up till use and end-of-life phase,. See next paragraph on Lifecycle Design Strategies.


Caisson ‘Nomade’

5. Mobilising employees. Employees are very much involved, due to Mrs Metivier efforts. Arféo encourages employees to recycle their household waste and ban paper advertisements from their post boxes. Arféo has posted its candidature for the European week ‘Reduisons nos Dechets’ contest, with the Stop Pub Employee Campaign and the new Painting Lane. Madame Metivier is informing employees about environmental trends and informing them about daily ‘eco-gestes’. An example :


Part of Arféo’s employees internal environmental mobilisation : affiche that asks employees to reduce their water consumption.

6.      Social responsible employer, Arfeo invests in a good balance male and female employees and a constructive training of young candidates knowing a substantial part of the current workers population is over 50 years old.  


Constructing a metal vestiaire

Life Cycle Analyses with the LIDS Wheel

Arféo has implemented cradle2cradle principles of life cycle design principles, before it was called so. Still, one of the famous models of the lifecycle design strategies (LIDS, see below) is very much of use to pinpoint all elements and show new directions for further development :


Lifecycle Design Strategies Wheel (LIDS), van Hemel, C. 1997. “Eco- design, empirically explored’ Thesis, Delft University of Technology, 1998. 

Looking at the principles in place at Arféo we see that they are well spread over the Lifecyle of a product.

Product Life Cycle Phase Examples at Arféo
1 Low Impact Materials – panels are made of PEFC wood (French eco-label for durable wood), with less than 8 mg/100g formaldehyde (class E1).- use of vinyl glue and water solvable paint. steel at Chateau-Gontier factory are made of 30% recycled and 70% virgin material. 
2. Reduction of Materials – products are designed with a optimum thickness and robustness, thin enough to safe materials but robust enough to guarantee safety and en optimal lifetime. 
3. Low Eco-Impact Production – most effective material use of steel plates (cutting scheme)- 100% of the materials used in production are recyclable and 95% are recycled : transported back to the supplier (steel, melamine, fabric) or to a waste treatment and recycle centre (paper, cardboard, polystyrene, fabric, plastic packaging batteries).- the new GEMA painting lane has decreased paint waste from 50% down to 1 to 10%. A thin layer (60 micron) of a 50% epoxy and 50%  polyether powder is applicated using an electro-statique procedure. The paint powder that fells on the ground is reinjected in the system.                                                                                                     – the hot air produced by the paint convection oven re-used in the heating system of the factory with a thermal pump. 
4. Low Eco-Impact Distribution – packaging is limited to a minimum and just cardboard- the truck fill percentage has been increase to over 85% which means that Arféo could have less trucks on the road and reduce green house gas emissions substantially.  
5. Low Eco-Impact Use – no particular actions 
6 Optimise Lifespan – products are designed for long term use (tables > 5 ys, seats > 3 y) with a timeless design and using solid and rigid materials, a timeless design and modular construction. Renault, for instance, is using a Arféo service allowing to keep and re-use the table metal frame but only change the table melamine plate in case of need. 
7. Optimise End of Life System – extensive recycle service in place. Abandoned furniture is collected, taken apart and send to recycling centers for fabric, steel and plastics.  
X New concept development – much attention to ergonomic and safety standards- modular design allowing usage by people of different sizes 


GEMA Painting Lane : Surface preparation, painting process and oven, significantly reducing the amount of paint and energy consumption.

Conclusion : The Lifecycle Model shows that Arféo has already many practices in place in all Lifecycle Phases. The model however can help to precise and to continue to improve the product, production and recycling development process.

Trends and Developments

Mrs Metivier et Mrs Caillard foresee different trends and developments, both at Arféo and in the office furniture industry in general :

Arféo will continue to train its employees to be aware about environmental challenges. Mrs Metivier will continue to communicate about good practices of recycling, collecting separated waste and reducing water, energy and materials spend, at home as well as in professional environments.

Standardisation (ISO) and certification (Eco-Labels) are good instruments. However, the costs of certification and audits (several thousand euros each), as well as participation (!) in the certification creation workshops can be a real threshold for SMEs. This means that the large enterprises will easier obtain new labels and norms and therefore have a competitive advantage. If the French government wants to stimulate innovation at SME companies, it would be good if these prices of public institutions would lower.

Communication about Sustainable Initiatives in the sector will intensify. Arféo has been one of the first to explain about sustainability. This will certainly be followed up by the competition. However, the company is convinced to be ahead. It will therefore continue to put all efforts in improving its products, from a functional, design and environmental viewpoint. Arféo continues to monitor and manage its ecological footprint. It also continues to work with external designer to guarantee a timeless and quality design of its furniture.

 Sources : 1. ‘Mobilier de bureau Le renouveau d’Arféo, 160 ans d’existence et l’aventure poursuit ! PNP No 315,  juillet 2009.