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Friday, December 15, 2023

This Swiss shoulder bag maker shares the secrets and techniques of 30 years of circularity

Freitag has been making messenger baggage and equipment from used truck tarps and different supplies for the reason that early Nineteen Nineties. Its company philosophy is, “We expect and act in cycles.”

The corporate is broadly considered one of many unique champions of round enterprise. To be taught extra, I interviewed Elisabeth Isenegger, communications lead and 13-year veteran at Freitag, by e mail in November. 

Suz Okie: Are you able to give a little bit of background on Freitag’s origins and why circularity is so central to its technique?  

Elisabeth Isenegger: One thing that began with the recycling of discarded truck tarps has inspired us time and time once more to make use of sources and vitality sparingly. 

At the moment, our fundamental focus is holding merchandise and supplies in circulation for so long as potential and figuring out how we are able to depart the linear economic system behind us as soon as and for all. 

Life-extending measures now we have already carried out, resembling upcycling, one-time recycling or restore, don’t absolutely fulfill this objective. As an alternative, we are trying to drive the round economic system by closing our materials cycles and turning into a round group. …Moreover, all good issues deserve a second life.

Okie: How had been repairability, sturdiness and different round ideas factored into the design?

Isenegger: This may be seen within the connected pouch product of recycled truck tarpaulin and the zips, which have been visibly sewn. Additionally, the piece of tarpaulin that was minimize out of the pouch to insert the zip is utilized in the primary compartment as a docking strap for keys. On this method, the tarpaulin is used effectively and functionally within the product with out leaving manufacturing leftovers. On prime of this, the spare components, resembling punched reflectors, are supplied without cost in our shops in order that the bag proprietor can repair some components themselves, in the event that they select.

Okie: With regard to supplies, how massive of a waste stream are truck tarps, and why did Freitag begin with this specific materials stream? 

Isenegger: Within the beginnings of Freitag in 1993, our two founders, graphic designers Markus and Daniel Freitag, had been searching for a useful, water-repellent and strong bag to carry their artistic work. Impressed by the multicolored heavy visitors that rumbled by means of the Zurich transit intersection in entrance of their flat, they developed a messenger bag from used truck tarpaulins, discarded bicycle interior tubes and automotive seat belts.

All-in-all, trade estimations declare that round 10 million sq. meters of (PVC) tarpaulins are produced yearly. 

We’re additionally working with varied industrial companions to develop a truck tarpaulin that, even after a protracted second life as a Freitag bag, doesn’t find yourself within the rubbish, however again within the cycle. The first prototypes of a round tarp at the moment are into its first spherical of testing by being mounted on small vans, and in 2024 there can be a second check spherical with a primary small fleet of vans.

Okie: Historically, designing merchandise from upcycled supplies will be tough to scale given sporadic sourcing and extra concerned testing/high quality management. How does Freitag overcome this?

Isenegger: As an alternative of ordering a brand new materials in big volumes, we glance out for used truck tarps throughout Europe from a number of hundred completely different trucking firms, in as many alternative colours and prints as potential. Not all of them can be utilized as a result of they often fail high quality checks. Nonetheless, we do not see these limits to scalability as solely destructive, because it has helped us to pursue a wholesome, natural development and preserve our genuine character as a distinct segment model.

Okie: The Freitag impression report denotes that you simply’re “actively trying to find higher options” to recycled PET.

Isenegger: We’re conscious that supplies made out of recycled PET bottles can solely be an interim answer so long as the PET is sourced from [what could be] a useful closed cycle. Accordingly, we solely use them the place no round alternate options can be found and are actively trying to find higher options. In parallel, we’re at present engaged on completely different round tasks.

The Freitag Material Cycles.

We’re embarking on a brand new cycle with a product made out of only one materials. This newest round growth from Freitag is known as Mono[PA6] as a result of each a part of the backpack, from the material to the buckles, is product of only one materials: polyamide 6. The first 1,500 items of the primary round backpack can be product of virgin PA6, a non-recycled materials, and are anticipated to be out there in spring 2024, together with a restore idea and takeback course of. 

Okie: With regard to your round providers, it is thrilling to see you pursuing a number of round providers directly. 
Isenegger: We provide product-related providers resembling restore, take-back, customization, a complimentary bag trade and a lending program.

On prime of the present providers, within the Freitag Laboratory of Progress (F.L.O.P.), a small crew is puzzling over new round options and enterprise fashions which might be in step with our manufacturers’ function of “Clever design for a round future.”

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