Swiss firm Rohner produces the Climatex Lifecycle biodegradable fabric, used extensively in the office furniture manufacturing business. The material is compostable, and true to the C2C founding principle of “waste = food”. “The team decided to design a fabric that would be safe enough to eat”, stressed William McDonough.
A new product, a new business model integrating social responsibility.
When carrying out the initial research to create the first 100% biodegradable synthetic fabric ever produced, the team asked suppliers for the composition of their ingredients in order to assess their degree of healthiness. Not surprisingly, they came up against the “secret recipe” argument but eventually Ciba-Geigy agreed to play the game. Out of the 8000 or so elements analysed, only 16 were selected, but that was enough to base a complete fabric line upon. Resulting commercial success proved huge and by 2002 Climatex Lifecycle accounted for a third of Rohner’s approximately $8 million in revenues.
As surprising as it may seem, the company eventually decided to share this valuable asset, allowing the entire fabric industry to use the Climatex Lifecycle production process free of charge.
The key facts and figures resulting from this C2C approach are as follows:
It had been seven years since we developed Climatex Lifecycle, and in that time, to our knowledge, no one else has developed a 100% safely biodegradable fabric, although there was a big interest in it. It’s not really green thinking if we just hold that information secret. It’s a good product that everyone should use.