What’s a Circular Economy? And Why Does It Matter?
Circular Economy

What’s a Circular Economy? And Why Does It Matter?

A Circular Economy is an alternative to a traditional wasteful linear economy that most furniture manufactures follow. In a traditional setting, products are made, used (sometimes for a very short time) and then thrown out. Materials are wasted and consumers are forced to buy more products, sooner. 

Mill + Commons embraces the Circular Economy, which involves keeping products as long as possible to extract their maximum value while they’re in use, and then recovering and regenerating the products and their materials at the end of their lives. 

 Circular economy chart

Why do it? 

Our team worked for many years in the design industry and we were always shocked by how much furniture was made overseas with cheap design, material, and labour (even when companies touted being local). Even expensive pieces would only last a handful of years before needing to be repaired or worse, sent to the landfill and then replaced. 

Our goal was to create timeless pieces using locally milled and sustainable materials that can withstand design trends. All our practices are rooted in this circular economy ethos. It’s not a perfect system, and we know there’s always work to do to make it more sustainable and accessible. But we believe profit and purpose can and should co-exist. 

 

How does it work? 

Material + Finishes

We source our wood from a mill that promotes responsible forestland stewardship and shares our values. The wood is EPA approved, FSC approved, rainforest certified, and all milled within Canada. The plywood uses a vegan, formaldehyde-free assembly, which means no harsh chemicals. (Most pressed particle wood and plywood use formaldehyde-based glues, making it impossible for them to be composted).

At Mill + Commons, we searched high and low and found a natural, high-end organic and biodegradable finish, which means when a product reaches the end of its life, it can be composted and will eventually break down.  

 

Manufacturing

We currently manufacture everything locally in North Vancouver, B.C., so that we can fully manage the entire process. This also means we can ensure nothing is going to waste. Because we use a vegan glue on our wood, and it’s formaldehyde-free, we have plans to send all our sawdust and off-cuts to local gardens and the city for composting in the near future.

 

Distribution

We designed our furniture so they can be truly flatpack, and they can be put together and taken apart many times over. A smaller package footprint also means it literally takes up less room in a vehicle when we send it out to you (and that reduces CO2 emissions). Our packaging is also locally manufactured, 100% plastic-free and the entire box can be recycled, reused, or composted. 

 

Use

We want your furniture to last a lifetime, so you can replace any piece that gets worn out or breaks. We’ll manufacture that specific piece and send it to you — there’s no need to purchase new furniture. 

 

Recycling

The wood and finish used on our table is 100% compostable (yes, we said compostable). At the end of what’s hopefully a very long life, your table can be shredded down and put back into the earth. It’s possible because it doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals. 

Of course, we’d prefer that you rehome your table when you’re done with it, but composting is truly the next best thing. 

 

Posted Sep 14, 2021 in Circular Economy