The Disruptor: How ‘Studio Wae’ Created Circular Design Products from Waste

Studio Wae

8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 12. Responsible Consumption and Production 13. Climate Action 17. Partnerships for the Goals

Overview

"We want to make beautiful things from waste."

Studio Wae was founded in 2017 by Tynke van den Heuvel. This 3 year-old-startup wants to make an impact on waste flows. They tap into urban mining waste streams (i.e. recovering raw materials from demolished buildings and old paving) and make aesthetically pleasing products from them. From this waste stream, they produce circular design concrete (for paving) and carpets. Furthermore, as from 2019, Studio Wae started a workspace for Syrian refugees in the Netherlands. The vision of the company is to make products that have an impact on the environment and do so by providing jobs for socially challenged individuals.

Authors

heeyeon shim

heeyeon shim

NITHIN ANTONY

NITHIN ANTONY

School

TIAS School for Business and Society

TIAS School for Business and Society

Professor

Mirjam Minderman

Mirjam Minderman

Innovation

Innovation from Waste

Tynke van den Heuvel, the founder of Studio Wae, has innovated two product streams that could potentially disrupt the traditional methods of producing concrete and carpets. She does this by tapping into the waste streams of urban mining. In 2017, she innovated a recipe for concrete that uses 65% recycled materials from urban mining and 35% glass. Today, by improving the recipe, Studio Wae can produce concrete that contains 76% recycled materials. Their ultimate goal is to produce decorative paving from 100% recycled material. All their concrete is circular, which means once the customer lifecycle is completed, the concrete can be used again as raw material to produce new concrete paving.

Studio Wae is currently the only company that can make concrete tiles with such a high percentage of recycled content. The Dutch Institute for Building Biology and Ecology (NIBE) has approved all the environmental classifications and the company has received the sustainability label with classification A from NL Greenlabel, a label for sustainable outdoor spaces.

While their concrete is on the way to being produced from 100% recycled materials, their carpet tiles are already manufactured from 100% waste. It is made from the production waste of three big carpet producers in the Netherlands. Based on an agreement of collaboration, Studio Wae collects the wastes from its partners and cuts them into geometric pieces in their workspace. The geometric design is implemented and cut in a particular way so that there is minimal waste produced from the process. This virtuous collaboration impacts not only the CO2 footprint and climate, but also our society.

The Disruptor: How ‘Studio Wae’ Created Circular Design Products from Waste

Inspiration

Inspiration from Family

Tynke worked for 14 years in a recycling company for metals and electronic equipment which was owned by her father. Her father knew the value of waste and created a successful company, which he wanted Tynke to take over. But Tynke, being an entrepreneurial spirit, could not work under her father as she was not able to innovate outside the defined boundaries. For her, waste was both value and a resource to create beautiful things from. She not only wanted to use the waste, but also impact the waste streams in order to create a positive impact on our environment.

This thought inspired her and in her search to create this impact she stumbled upon urban mining. The huge quantities of concrete that became available because of urban mining fascinated her. This sparked a thought in her, "Why can't we re-use this concrete to create paving?" This led to a quest to find the right recipe for creating concrete using recycled materials from urban mining. It took her close to 2 years to find the right mix, mold, and manufacturer to bring this product to life.

To put in her own words, “Wa(e)ste can be turned into something beautiful.”

Overall impact

By the year 2040, Europe will have run out of raw materials for the production of concrete. Tynke foresees a natural resource scarcity and a war for resources in the future. She believes that her company has a responsibility to help people and the government understand this situation. Studio Wae is a living, breathing entity with Tynke at its helm proving to the world that, by using existing resources available through urban mining, we can still produce products that are required for the long term.

Studio Wae focuses on the following aspects:

● Handle natural resources more sustainably and responsibly.

● Reduce CO2 footprint.

● Provide jobs to people who are socially challenged (eg. Syrian refugees).

● Create an impact on and from the waste stream.

● Promote circular deals with clients when possible.

● Build circular products.

Business benefit

The company is seeing an increase in demand for their products. During this short period, they have been able to forge very strong partnerships with vendors, architectural companies, governments (ProRail) and manufacturers.

Their business model predominantly works on a transaction basis. Clients can reach out to Studio Wae or the distributor and buy the products directly from a catalog. Studio Wae also offers bespoke services whereby they visit clients and co-create a design tailored to individual needs. Various architectural companies also act on behalf of the clients and buy products from Studio Wae.

They are planning to expand their team this year. Their main focus is on the sales team. They currently have the infrastructure to execute big projects and it is scalable. Currently, they are present only in the Netherlands. They plan to expand first in Benelux, then Europe and then outside Europe. They are already receiving inquiries from Japan and the Middle East to name a few and they can ship the carpets to them. But concretes require an onsite facility which they are currently not pursuing unless a possible partnership arises.

Social and environmental benefit

Environmental benefit

● Concrete: Reduce Co2 and use of new resources

The formula of Studio Wae’s concrete consists of 76% of recycled resources that are sourced from urban mining (old concrete paving). Tynke says this makes a huge difference to the climate. For example, last year, they paved the first circular platform in Maarn, Netherlands, saving 280 tons of new resources and 90 tons of Co2 emissions.

● Carpet: Create virtuous circle

Fully produced using 100% waste constituents. They are made out of production failures of the 3 biggest carpet tile producers in the Netherlands: Interface, Tarkett (Desso) and Forbo. Studio Wae collects the wastes from its partner's and cuts them into geometric pieces in their workspace. The geometric design is implemented and cut in a particular way so that there is a minimal waste produced from the process. This virtuous collaboration impacts on CO2 footprint, climate, and our society.

Social benefit

Studio Wae makes design circular. By using product waste resources they extend the lifecycle of these resources. The production of Wae’s complete collection is executed by people with limited job opportunities in their workplace located in Utrecht, Netherlands. Their mission is to employ as many Syrian residence permit holders as possible, offering them a solid base to build a future in the Netherlands.

Interview

Tynke van den Heuvel, Company Owner

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Studio Wae

Studio Wae

Utrecht, Utrecht, NL

Business Website: https://studiowae.nl/

Year Founded: 2017

Number of Employees: 2 to 10

Studio Wae was founded in 2017 by Tynke van den Heuvel. Her vision is to make products that have a great impact on waste reduction and no negative impact on nature. In 2019 she started a social workspace for Syrian refugees with a working permit that assemble circular carpets made from production waste of Interface, Tarkett and Desso.