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Circular Economy Podcast - 96 Nick Oettinger - Keeping mattresses in circulation

96 Nick Oettinger – keeping mattresses in circulation

Nick Oettinger is Founder and CEO of The Furniture Recycling Group (TFR Group) in the UK. Nick has 12 years’ experience in recycling and waste management. He was previously Managing Director of a specialist construction company before moving into the waste and recycling sector, where he spent five years as an improvement consultant and nine years in product recycling.
The Furniture Recycling Group (TFR Group) provides mattress recycling, rejuvenation and collection, working in the UK with bed retailers, local authorities, home delivery companies and waste management sites to keep mattresses and their materials in circulation. They rejuvenate and recycle over 10,000 mattresses each week, and are responsible for diverting nearly 9% of all UK mattresses away from landfill.
We’ll hear how online retailing has transformed the market for mattresses, and led to increased levels of returns. Nick explains the complexity of mattress designs, and how TFR Group is going beyond recycling to help its customers recover more value from unwanted mattresses.
Nick describes the broader circular services and advice offered to The Furniture Recyclng Group’s clients, and what makes mattresses such a challenging product to reuse or remake, including barriers created by our sub-conscious perceptions.

Circular Economy Podcast 95 - Simone Andersson - social value from circular e-waste solutions

95 Simone Andersson – social value from circular e-waste solutions

Simone Andersson is Chief Commercial Officer at WEEE Centre, a Kenyan social enterprise that’s been expanding safe e-waste management and circular solutions across East Africa, since 2012. Simone’s background is in communication and sustainability action around waste and water management, and before joining the WEEE Centre she was at RISE (Research Institutes of Sweden), where she led innovative developmental projects on resource efficiency, circular economy systems, traceability, precious materials and various solid and liquid wastes.
Her mission is to create awareness about the possibilities and prosperity of Green Business and Clean Tech.
The WEEE Centre focuses on people, planet and prosperity, in particular by helping young people improve their social and economic circumstances. It’s aiming to expand the collection infrastructure to cover all Kenyan Counties and to increase local recycling by bringing more advanced technologies. It also wants to reach other African countries, starting with neighboring Uganda and Tanzania.
By 2019, the WEEE Centre had recycled more than 10,000ntons of e-waste, serving over 8,000 clients across Africa, and creating hundreds of jobs. It became the first and only e-waste management organization to be ISO certified with multiple awards. WEEE Centre has the capacity to recycle all types of e-waste, and has trained many other African countries on safe e-waste recycling.
We’ll hear about the operational complexities, some of the collaborations and partnerships they’ve fostered to overcome the challenges of being a relatively small enterprise, and how they’re trying to make sure they create value-adding circular flows, rather than focusing on recycling.

Circular Economy Podcast - Ep93 Guglielmo Mazza ReFuse Eco

93 Guglielmo Mazza – helping communities refuse packaging waste

Guglielmo Mazzà is an environmental engineer and social entrepreneur, and the co-founder and CEO of ReFuse, a social enterprise based in Beirut [Lebanon] that offers community-based solid waste management services. Guglielmo worked in development initiatives and humanitarian response in the field of water, sanitation, hygiene and financial inclusion, across Europe and Africa. His passion is combining equitable access to resources with ecosystem justice and restoration.
ReFuse has a mission to work with underserved communities, enabling them to sort recyclables and get rewarded for it. ReFuse says: “Where most people see a pile of waste, we see opportunities to improve the lives of vulnerable people. Secondary raw-materials have an unexploited value.”
Guglielmo explains some of the issues faced by many people living in Beirut, where approximately one-third of the population are migrants, with many living in temporary tented communities. Poverty, inequality and lack of government funds are big issues, and there is a lack of basic infrastructure, including a reliable electricity supply.
We hear how the ReFuse operation works, how they’ve expanded the range of materials they can recycle, and what they do with it all. We find out what motivates people to bring their recyclables along to the ReFuse stations – surprisingly, for many people, it’s not about the cash.

Circular Economy Podcast Ep92 Elmar Stroomer Africa Collect Textiles

92 Elmar Stroomer – circular textile solutions in Africa

Elmar Stroomer is the founder of Africa Collect Textiles (ACT). Africa Collect Textiles does exactly that – collecting used textiles across Africa, for reuse, recycling and upcycling.

Elmar Stroomer has a strong background in the circular economy and design, and lived in Kenya and Uganda between 2012 and 2017 to get Africa Collect Textiles up and running. Now, Elmar is working full time on the expansion of ACT in Kenya and Nigeria. ACT aims to develop solutions to end the textile waste issues across Africa. It distributes free and affordable clothing to underprivileged communities, and currently has over 40 collection points in Nairobi and Lagos for used textiles. It provides employment to more than 50 people, who help collect, sort and upcycle fashion waste, used uniforms and off-cuts, creating products such as rugs, backpacks, toys and much more. On top of this, for every kilogram of used textiles it recycles, Africa Collect Textiles (ACT) donates 10 Kenyan shillings to charity. We hear about how fashion waste imported from the global north has undermined the existing textile and clothing sector in Kenya, and why Elmar decided to create a circular economy for locally produced textiles. Elmar tells us about some of the circular initiatives that ACT has set up, including repurposing workshops, services for resellers that overcome some of the major issues with the system for reselling imported end-of-use textiles, and innovative ways of repurposing end-of-life clothing for local businesses.

Circular Economy Podcast - 87 Veena Sahajwalla High-value MICROFactories

87 – Veena Sahajwalla – high-value opportunities from MICROFactories

Professor Veena Sahajwalla, founder of UNSW SMaRT Centre, is an internationally recognised materials scientist, engineer, and inventor who is revolutionising recycling science. In 2018, Veena launched the world’s first e-waste MICROfactorieTM and in 2019 she launched her plastics and Green Ceramics MICROfactoriesTM, another breakthrough for recycling technology. Veena unpacks the concepts of micro-factories and micro-recycling, and we hear why it’s important to get clear on the constituent materials in waste flows – for example, not just textiles, but what the textile is made from.
Veena explains the importance of thinking beyond the manufacture of the recycled material, so you are designing solutions that are properly suitable for high-value end-products. Veena also describes how the projects are collaborating with industry partners, helping open up opportunities for important local jobs, skills and resilient income streams.

Circular Economy Podcast Episode 81 René Bethmann – circular designs for outdoor sports gear

81 – René Bethmann – circular designs for outdoor sports gear

How do we navigate the tensions of having brilliant products that help us enjoy outdoor activities, yet which are difficult to repair and recycle? René Bethmann specializes in textile and apparel technology, and is leading new approaches to the design of more circular products and materials at Vaude Sports. René focuses on emotional durability, repairability and renewable or recyclable materials. Plus, if we focus on defossilization, not decarbonization, we can unlock new ways of thinking about textiles, coatings and other materials.

Circular Economy Podcast Ep76 Isolde de Ridder – Circular Jewellery

76 Isolde de Ridder – Circular Jewellery

Isolde de Ridder is a circular jeweller and goldsmith. She founded her business – Isolde de Ridder Sieraden, in 2017, to create high-end jewellery with the greatest care for both people and planet. Isolde gives discarded metals and other materials a second life, contributing to a better world for future generations.
Isolde began her education to become a goldsmith in 2006, to combine her passion for gemstones, creativity and working with her hands. She’s inspired by Nature, gemstones, ancient civilizations and also more recent art movements.
We talk about why reusing discarded precious metals is more complicated than it sounds, and how Isolde is encouraging people to bring old jewellery back to life, using her storytelling and design skills to help people repurpose jewellery and other materials into things they will treasure, and that remind them of their loved ones.
Isolde tells us about her early interests, and how they led her to start this business, how she became disillusioned with the ethics of Fair Mined and Fairtrade Gold, and how that sparked the ideas for becoming a circular economy jeweller.
Isolde describes some of the kinds of jewellery she designs, and how she uses old objects to embed precious memories into the finished product.

Circular Economy Podcast Episode 71 Rob Thompson – scaling up circular marine plastic solutions

Episode 71 Rob Thompson – scaling up circular marine plastic solutions

Odyssey Innovation collects and recycles marine plastic into kayaks and other products. In 2020, we heard about the UK south-west coast operations – now it is expanding, with the Net Generation Scheme – helping the fishing industry, local government and lots of other stakeholders to create a scalable circular solution to reduce marine plastics. This is something that could expand around the world!

Circular Economy Podcast Episode 69 Jo Godden of RubyMoon - circular fibres for activewear

Episode 69 Jo Godden of RubyMoon – circular fibres for activewear

RubyMoon, based in Brighton in the UK, is already using recycled fibres from Ocean Plastics to make its active wear products, and now wants to go further through research projects that overcome the technical challenges of recovering and recycling the kind of textiles commonly used in swimwear.
Jo explains that this project focuses on two key fabric elements, Nylon 6 – a strong, durable polyamide, and Elastane, that makes the fabric stretchy so it fits well and supports activites like swimming and other sports.
The challenge is how to find mechanical and chemical methods of breaking down polyamide elastane, that are both cost-effective and environmentally sound.
There’s a second ambitious project too, developing a nano trace to embed into the material so that it can be identified and recovered, to make sure it goes back into the closed loop system.

Circular Economy Podcast Episode 67 Megan O'Connor Of Nth Cycle

Episode 67 Megan O’Connor Of Nth Cycle – a big leap forward for metal & mineral recovery

Megan O’Connor is co-founder and CEO of Nth Cycle, a metal processing company that has developed technology to enable a clean, domestic, and streamlined supply of critical minerals for the clean energy transition.
Megan tells us how she came up with the idea for using electro-extraction, a technology developed by her co-founder for a completely different application, and how she then pivoted the entire focus of her PhD to develop this.