New life for old plastic

Posted: 27 July 2001

Discarded bottlecaps in Norway are now being recycled into chairs, thanks to the creative mind of Kjersti Kviseth, Environmental Manager at HÃ…G Inc.

It took Kjersti Kviseth, a year of testing, with much trial and error, to develop the process for recycling bottle caps into useable - and ergonomically sound - chairs. Today HÃ…G, Norway's leading office chair supplier, are selling annually around 40,000 of their Scio chairs made from the recycled bottlecap plastic, across Europe and North America.

Bottlecap chairKjersti Kviseth poses proudly with a chair made from recycled bottlecaps.© HÃ…G "We began by learning to view waste as a resource," she says. "This applies to wood and metals and textiles, as well to things such as oil. One person's waste products are another person's raw materials. Working with other environmentally-conscious organisations in Norway, such as Dynoplast, Plastretur, and the Brewery Association, we developed the idea of reusing polypropylene bottle caps." Kviseth notes that some 100 tons of bottle caps are used in a typical year - bottle caps that would otherwise simply be discarded and become part of society's solid waste problem.

The bottle caps are separated from returned bottles at soft drink plants, and are then ground up and sent to a processing plant, where they are converted into new plastic raw material. "By grinding the caps and using them in our chair production, we give them a useful life of ten to twenty years," says Kviseth. "Our customers will notice no difference in product quality or price. And this also debunks the commonly-held but erroneous notion that developing manufacturing processes which have no adverse environmental impact is always costly."

According to Kviseth, the recycled materials have been subject to rigorous laboratory testing, and have been found to be equal - and in some respects, even better - in quality to the non-recycled materials that would otherwise be used.

Kviseth and her colleagues are enthusiastic about the use of the recycled bottle caps, but see it as only a first step. Now, HAG are using plastic recycled from car bumpers and ketchup containers in their Conventio chairs, which previously had a back and seat made from new polypropylene.

"For HÃ…G, this is one more important step towards our overall vision of making more, using less, and of demonstrating how recycling can work in practice, " says Kviseth who forecasts sales of around 50,000 Conventio chairs this year.

For more information, contact:

Kjersti Kviseth, Environmental Manager,HÃ…G a.s.a.
Tel: +47 22 59 5900
Fax: +47 22 59 5959