The UK launch of the award-winning DuraOcean® – the first commercially viable mass-market outdoor chair made from nets, ropes and plastic waste recovered from the world’s oceans – heralds the dawn of a shift towards truly sustainable furniture that holds the potential to revolutionise the outdoor living category.
This is the vision of Stig Maasbøl, CEO of ScanCom International, the parent company of LifestyleGarden®, which is raising the bar in the rapidly developing market for eco-friendly furniture. Retail buyers have been clamoring to place orders for the ground-breaking DuraOcean®, which won the coveted Best New Product award at the SOLEX outdoor leisure trade exhibition at Birmingham’s NEC in July.
Stig revealed the story that saw DuraOcean® born, and the process that brought the concept to market at a time when concern over recovery of ocean plastic is at an all-time high, following the impact of Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet series. Stig said: “A year ago, ScanCom read about a small start-up company in Denmark that had started the transition of raw ocean material. I carried out an analysis of who was behind it, who the investors were, how seriously they were committed and if they had sufficient funding. At the first meeting with the CEO, established an agreement.”
A complex period of research and development followed, driven by significant investment from ScanCom International. Stig explained: “We knew it would be a long and complicated process to adapt our moulds and specialist machinery to utilise this new recycled material instead of virgin material. We realised it was not going to be possible to achieve the same colour every time, but that’s going to be part of the DuraOcean® story. To be consistent in colour we’d have to add materials that would prevent the chair from being fully recycled at the end of its life – that wasn’t what we wanted to do, and it risked killing the story. I think it’s trendy to have varying colours of chairs. The younger generation of consumers finds it fashionable.”
A punishing regime of trials at ScanCom’s own third party-approved test centre saw the DuraOcean® put through its paces prior to launch, triumphing across all categories of test, from the climatic extremes of snow, sunlight and water exposure, to brutal impact trials. Stig added: “Because we have our own certified lab, we don’t have to go to external test laboratories, which means we can issue test certificates to our customers. We tested the DuraOcean® up to contract level, so the furniture can be used in commercial operations such as restaurants, in addition to the garden market. We have just tested it for the booming cruise industry, where the requirements are even higher – and it passed. It’s a market that wants the product.”
LifestyleGarden® is already receiving enquiries from restaurants and cafes looking to replace tired furniture with DuraOcean®. The product’s green credentials empower businesses to convey the message to customers that they’re doing their bit for the environment. A chain of garden centres that’s due to introduce the DuraOcean® to its restaurants is keen to install signage around its eateries, explaining the story behind DuraOcean®, and placing the eco-friendly furniture at the core of its consumer marketing strategy.
So, will DuraOcean® conquer the global market for sustainable furniture in one fell swoop? Stig says: “We only have one product at present, but we have more in the pipeline. The goal is to make a range. We have to look at global markets differently. In my humble opinion, the US is a little behind the rest of Europe and the UK, but Scandanavia and Germany have been ahead with this type of development for a number of years. But across Europe it’s just a matter of time, as here is a solution [to the waste plastic problem] that’s needed. It’s what consumers want, especially younger shoppers. I have three daughters and they couldn’t care less if the chairs are slightly varying shades of green. They just want to buy something that helps to protect the environment.”
DuraOcean® will be primarily marketed as a bistro set,featuringtwo chairs containing a total of 7kg of salvaged ocean plastic, plus the Nassau FSC Eucalyptus table, with the set priced at an RRP of just £299.00. A beachside display of the chairs, in the Mediterranean Biome at Cornwall’s Eden Project, is already causing a consumer frenzy, with shoppers keen to find out how to buy the furniture. Interest is being driven by social media, too. Stig adds: “Globally, social media is big. I’m not into counting ‘likes’ as I’m from the older generation, but I can see that feedback on DuraOcean® is nearly double as high as other stories.”
A series of videos featuring the astonishing journey from ocean plastic to the ultimate in chic outdoor living is in the pipeline, too, with the goal of spreading the word about DuraOcean® by going viral. Retailers will benefit from innovative POS material, which will help to convey the story to consumers at the point of purchase. An online landing counter will chalk-up the incredible quantity of plastic that’s been recycled as the range hits retail sales floors next season. As part of ScanCom’s commitment to ‘Doing Business the Right Way’, packaging throughout the company’s range is being overhauled, with plastic and polystyrene replaced by easily recyclable corrugated cardboard and FSC-approved boxes and packaging.
Having developed such a revolutionary product with so much potential, why has LifestyleGarden® attractively priced DuraOcean® to appeal to the mass market? Stig sums-up: “I had this discussion with the board. We could have priced it higher to earn a lot more money, but we wanted to get the recycling message out to the world, and we want to give something back.” And true to its word, ScanCom has announced a goal is to give $5 USD from each sale of the DuraOcean® chair to an ocean clean-up charity or organisation.
Find out more
If you want to find out more about LifestyleGarden® and its premium-quality outdoor furniture, please visit us at www.lifestylegarden.com and follow the team on Facebook and Instagram. You can also learn more about the DuraOcean® story by viewing this dedicated video: www.lifestylegarden.com/Duraocean