Vestre saves the oceans with the world’s first bench made of ownerless and recycled marine plastics

by Francesca

Earlier this year, Vestre took the initiative to invest in and join forces with the company Ogoori, whose mission is to support the clean up of plastic marine waste and recycle the plastics for use in furniture design. Vestre is now proud to present the bench Coast, made completely from ownerless marine plastics gathered by Ogoori, and which Vestre leases from Ogoori.

Recycling and transforming plastic marine waste into design furniture is a complex and time-consuming process that requires major resources. Coast is a fantastic first example from Vestre of what can be done by not just gathering plastic marine waste, but also repurposing it into something completely new. The bench, which is the first of its kind in the world, is designed by Allan Hagerup, whose previous work for Vestre includes the Kong and Dialog series.

“Designing a bench using plastic gathered from beaches by volunteers is an inspiring and passionate task. So, it feels great to have created the very first bench in this material for Vestre, and to contribute to sustainable development with a product that will be accessible to everyone,” says designer Allen Hagerup.Coast is made of hot-dip galvanized, powder-coated steel, with seating surfaces made of plastic gathered from the beaches of Norway, where ownerless plastic accumulates and destroys nature and natural cycles. Coast is a solid bench that is created to withstand outdoor use in marine environments. Hagerup explains that the project has largely been about the plastic material itself and the story behind it. This has governed both the form and the design process. The circular economy, with the reuse of materials – in this case materials that have been very clearly rejected by society and are not found in controlled cycles – has also been in focus throughout the work.

“In order to visualize this cycle, it was natural to create a product with a connection to the ocean. Coast is designed to be placed on a pier in a port area or on a rock in an archipelago, so that you can sit on the bench and look out over the ocean,” says Hagerup.

The story of the marine plastics is also reflected in how the shape of the bench has borrowed motifs and themes from the marine environment. Discernable from the front are the contours of the hull of a boat, and the plastic parts are immersed in a row in the protective steel frame, giving the impression of floating on the surface. The steel frame extends upwards on narrow legs, lifting the plastic material up on a pedestal.

“The form was kept as simple as possible so as not to draw focus away from the marine plastics material,” explains Hagerup.

Challenging material
Vestre has initially produced a prototype of the bench. As the raw material is recycled and not as high-quality as new plastic raw material, testing of for example toxicity and UV wear will follow, with the goal of launching Coast on the market in a limited edition in 2021.

“When the material is of uneven quality, it is important to consider what will happen to the plastic over time in an outdoor environment,” clarifies Hagerup. “To prevent weathering, the plastic parts must be replaced at regular intervals. Either through a kind of mortgage system or through a leasing agreement with regular service from Vestre. The frame is therefore designed in such a way that it is easy to replace the plastic parts when needed. Naturally, the used plastic will be recycled again and transformed into new products.”Collaboration is key for Ogoori
Vestre is carrying out the work with Ogoori in collaboration with several players, who in various ways are making the project possible, including the circular furniture manufacturer Ope, environmental activist Rune Gaasø, and the In The Same Boat organization, whose volunteers help to collect much of the marine plastics. The tracking of the plastic and its origin is determined using block chain technology from Empower.

Thanks to the unique contribution and commitment of all these players, Ogoori is able to offer the market a traceable plastic raw material with a guarantee of origin – to prove that it is 100 procent ownerless marine plastics. The raw marine plastics also tells a compelling story of the belief in making the world a better place through cooperation, community and personal commitment – one where every little piece of plastic has been picked up by volunteers or professional beach cleaners, so that it does not litter, pollute, be eaten or break down into microplastics in the future.

“The world is in a process of change and Vestre hopes that Ogoori can serve as a showcase for how to free oneself from the correlation between growth and resource consumption. Ogoori’s further development will be relevant for the rest of Vestre’s operations and can hopefully inspire other players,” says Jan Christian Vestre, CEO of Vestre.

Product information Coast
Designer: Allan Hagerup
Material: Ownerless and recycled marine plastics
Size: W: 45 cm, H: 46 cm, L: 206,6 cm
Price: Not yet announcedCoast launches in October 2020 and will be available during 2021/2022

Marine plastics – a global problem
The most common debris found on beaches and in the oceans is plastic. Around 150 million tonnes of plastic is floating in our oceans, and every year the amount of plastic increases by between 5 and 13 million tonnes. At the same time, far too little plastic is being recycled – in Europe, just under a third of the annual plastic waste, around 27 million tonnes. The organization Keep Sweden Clean estimates that around 70 percent of the waste on Swedish beaches is plastic-based. In the Mediterranean, an inland sea surrounded by countries with a lot of industry, intensive shipping and 200 million tourists a year, as much as 95 percent of the waste on the beaches and in the water is made of plastic.

Debris is often single use items, such as plastic candy bags, straws, and plastic caps. The majority of debris found in the ocean was disposed of on shore and finds its way into the ocean through rainwater, wind and rivers. In the ocean, plastic waste slowly decomposes into smaller particles and eventually turns into microplastics, which do not further decompose for several hundred years, and remain in the marine environment, moving higher up in the food chain.

The fact that the world’s oceans have become massive dumping grounds for plastic is something that has a detrimental effect on animal and plant life. Whales, seals, seabirds, turtles, and many other animals get stuck in the debris and drown, starve to death, or are seriously injured. Animals that eat plastic debris often suffocate or suffer internal damage, and the pieces of plastic can give them a false feeling of satiety, which in the end causes them to starve. 

According to WWF, it is estimated that some 90 percent of the world’s seabirds have fragments of plastic in their stomachs, and that 18 percent of all tuna fish and swordfish have plastic debris in their stomachs – mostly cellophane and PET. In many areas, marine plastics are also contaminating the plankton. Many fish and other sea creatures mistake microplastics for plankton and accidently eat the harmful plastic in the hunt for food. Plastic debris in the marine environment contains organic pollutants such as pesticides, phthalates, PCB, and bisphenol A. Plastic pollutants can disrupt important biological processes and cause liver damage or hormonal disorders.

You may also like