Dutch bed manufacturer Auping is considered to be one of the leaders in the circular economy of the Netherlands. The company's goal is to have a production process where every fibre is reused. When a mattress is worn, the mattress returns to the factory, and the cotton and polyester is recycled into new mattresses.
Auping adapted the Cradle-to-Cradle system, which focuses on three principles. Firstly, products are manufactured from 100% reuable materials. Secondly, Auping uses sutainable energy and any usage of fossil sourced energy is kept to a minimum. Lastly, the well-being of employees is important. Auping strives to be a good employer and a transparent partner for other companies.
Auping managed to cut down their gas consumption by 90% and electricity by 45%
Sustainability every step of the way
In addition to Auping’s attention to circular economy, the company also looks at the sustainability of their manufacturing process and products. Their bed frames are painted with a water-based varnish. The manufacturer has saved 120,000 transport kilometres per year by centralizing their production plant in the Dutch city of Deventer. They start the manufacturing process only when they receive an order from the customer, instead of producing the beds and mattresses in bulk and storing them in warehouses. The Deventer plant uses the smart industry scheme. It has a wood plant to produce bed frames, a steel factory to make mesh bases and a stitching workshop for their mattresses and boxsprings. Centralizing everything not only keeps the kilometres in transportation to a minimum, but it also integrates the various manufacturing processes. In addition to the aforementioned, it stimulates the involvement of the employees. By integrating all these steps, Auping managed to cut down their energy usage: gas usage by 90% and electricity by 45%.
Take Back System
In recent years Auping introduced the ‘Take Back System’. The initiative involves taking back the customer’s old mattress when they buy a new one. Auping recycles the old mattresses and turns them into wall insolation and judo mats. These mattresses will not end up in the ovens, unlike the other 1,2 million annually. In the future, Auping wants to develop a lease scheme. Companies or individuals can lease a mattress and trade them in for a new one when the mattresses reaches the end of its lifecycle.
Circular business management does require perseverance. The transition to a circular business model is not cheap: at Auping the costs increased to around €20 milion to realize all the improvements. Additionaly, if a company has shareholders for which it has to open the books every quarter, such a strategy will result in an extensive discussion. However, industry leaders have to set a good example, to be able to realize a (inter)national circular economy.
The Best Practices
Holland Circular Hotspot (HCH) wants to support international cooperation on the circular economy with the aim of creating business opportunities and promoting the exchange of knowledge and innovation. In the magazine Circular Is Going Global - Join Holland's Flow you can read which circular best practices the Netherlands has to offer.