Article originally published on greendotbioplastics.com
Owl Furniture brings better posture to the masses thanks to bioplastics.
Have you ever been frustrated when trying to manufacture a sustainable plastic product? Geoffrey Warner has. In 2017, the owner of Owl Furniture wanted to create a new line of injection molded, ergonomic seating that combined his mission of craftsmanship and imaginative design with his commitment to environmentally sound practices. Searching for a sustainable solution, Geoffrey turned to the local dump.
Owl Furniture is known for its handmade wood seating, designed using ergonomic principles to support healthy lifestyles. The stools and chairs are beautiful and comfortable but not conducive to volume orders. Borne of a desire to provide postural support on a broader scale, Geoffrey envisioned a version of his popular Owl Rolling Stool with a seat made from injection molded plastic rather than wood.
“Our wood furniture is made from regionally grown cherry, walnut, and ash. It’s a renewable resource, harvested in an environmentally sound way. So, when I had this idea for a new line of stools, made from plastic, that meant a shift from wood to a petroleum product which is the opposite of what I want to be supporting,” Geoffrey says.
Owl Furniture is headquartered in Stonington, Maine, one of the largest lobster ports in the country. Tons of leftover polypropylene fishing line end up in the dump each year, adding to the extreme amount of plastic waste plaguing the planet. Geoffrey thought this was the solution: recycle the fishing line into material for his furniture.
“That was an idealistic but ultimately ridiculous idea,” he says now. “It turned out to be a fairly complicated project, chemistry-wise, in order to get the right flow rate, the right look, and the right price point.”
After years of failed attempts to create his own sustainable plastics, Geoffrey was discouraged. But he knew there had to be a solution.
Hours of research lead Geoffrey to bioplastics, then to the Green Dot Bioplastics website. Impressed with the information available online, he reached out to learn more. The response he received confirmed that
Green Dot was the right partner for the newest addition to Owl Furniture.
“Green Dot had a variety of materials, they seemed to know what they were talking about, and they were good communicators,” Geoffrey says.
Soon, he was collaborating with the R&D team at Green Dot to develop the right material. Over the next 18 months, Owl Furniture and Green Dot worked together to create a post-consumer plastic and wood composite with the properties needed for the injection molded design. The composite has the strength and versatility of petroleum-based plastic but uses recycled and bioplastic materials that align with Geoffrey’s commitment to environmentally sound practices.
In the Fall of 2021, less than two years after contacting Green Dot, Owl Furniture launched the ErgoPro Owl stool.
Featuring a patented, injection molded seat made from the Green Dot biocomposite, the ErgoPro Owl stool is designed for health practitioners, schools, institutional, and office use, to name a few.
Since launching the ErgoPro, Geoffrey and his team have exhibited at international furniture trade shows and received multiple queries about volume orders. College of the Atlantic selected the ErgoPro to furnish laboratories, classrooms, offices, and studios in The Davis Center for Human Ecology which opened in Fall 2021.
“This was a much bigger project than I ever though it would be, getting something like this from inspiration to product, but Green Dot got us there,” Geoffrey says. “The market is ready for the ErgoPro, and we are ready to deliver.”