Externalized costs are costs generated by producers but carried by society as a whole. In today’s linear economy materials typically move through the stages of extraction, production, distribution and disposal and all along the way there are social and environmental damages. Climate change is the bill that’s due from years of externalizing costs this way. Through a circular economy model and a commitment to sustainability, Cyrc tries to remove every possible externalized cost from production and consumption.
Nearly every object in modern life has an obfuscated wake of destruction behind it. Where it came from and how it was made - there are many details we are prevented from knowing. And then, when you're done with the object, there’s an unknowable future. Where does it go when it is discarded? Recycled? Burned? Landfilled? Often we do not, and cannot, know.
Cyrc is an answer to this problem - providing objects which come with knowledge about how they are made, and a plan for having them unmade. Our hope with Cyrc is to make products that make it easier for you to be a consumer living by your principles.
It’s time to stop externalizing costs.
Plastic pollution is catastrophic
Plastic waste that makes its way into natural ecosystems is called “mismanaged.” We feel any plastic that is landfilled or incinerated has been mismanaged.
Plastics will last anywhere from hundreds of years to forever. Almost every plastic can be recycled, but not if we don't change how we use and dispose of it.
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At the end of its use, plastic tipically has three possible fates:
3. polluting the natural environment
More than 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced since 1950. Compared to other artificial materials, only steel and cement are produced in higher amounts.
By 2015, of the 5.8 billion tonnes of plastic no longer in use, only 9% has been recycled and 79% has accumulated in landfills or the natural environment.
If current production and waste management trends continue, roughly 12 billion tonnes of plastic waste will be in landfills or polluting the natural environment by 2050.
Every year, at least 8 million tonnes of plastic leak into the ocean–a leak equivalent to dumping the contents of one garbage truck into the water every minute
If a business-as-usual scenario continues, the ocean is expected to contain one tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish by 2025, and by 2050, more plastics than fish (by weight)
Yeah, it’s that bad.
It’s time to change our habits.
Fast Furniture is an environmental fiasco
Marketing and globalization have remade the furniture industry. It’s style over substance. While brands like Zara and H&M produce “fast fashion,” we now have an analogous industry trend for furniture.
Unlike the fashion industry, the furniture industry has not been forced to confront its sustainability problems and related ethical issues.
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Furniture is the least recycled household item
Furniture is typically made from complex assemblies of multiple types of materials. It is manufactured to be assembled as quickly as possible, with no mandate for its disassembly. Special adhesives and hardware only add to the frustration.
There’s no economy that supports the disassembly and recovery of these materials.
Really Fast furniture
Ikea makes one BILLY bookcase every 3 seconds. It’s made from veneer-covered particle board that cannot be recycled. Since the product’s launch in 1978, Ikea has produced more than 60 million BILLY bookcases, and its price has come down by about a third.
“Get the prices down and you increase sales – we created that demand, not the consumer,” says Johan Stenebo, who held senior positions at Ikea for 20 years, including a stint as its environmental director and quit Ikea in 2008. “That’s why I have a problem now with discussions about climate change,” he adds. “It’s corporate-driven but we always talk about consumer behaviour.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that over 12 million tons of furniture are discarded in the US every year
80% of that discarded furniture goes to landfills and the rest is incinerated. Almost none of it is recycled (0.003%). However, the problems start before it’s even sold.
We might assume that buying solid wood furniture is a sustainable option because of the natural material, but unfortunately, the reality is more complicated
Deforestation is the second leading cause of climate change
Where furniture manufacturing booms, deforestation follows
Logging to feed furniture factories in China, spurred by demand from the United States, is thinning the forests of Central Africa. In Vietnam, authorities turn a blind eye to illegal logging. So much forest has been cleared that loggers have moved across the borders into neighbouring Laos and Cambodia, where they’re illegally razing forests. Illegal logging and land conversion like this is happening all over the globe.
Colgan, D. (2018, July 16). Furniture from China contributes to deforestation in central Africa. UCLA Newsroom.
Drollette, D. (2013, May 20). A Plague of Deforestation Sweeps Across Southeast Asia. YaleE360.
But FSC-certified wood is harvested responsibly, right?
Honestly, there’s so much to unpack here. Cyrc is still compiling the research. If you’re curious about the effectiveness of the Forest Stewardship Council, have a look at these links.
- Channel 4 News, Investigation: Thousands of trees illegally felled to build IKEA’s flat pack empire
- Earth Sight, Flatpack Forests
- Greenpeace International, Destruction: Certified
- 4. FSC-Watch, FSC-Watch.com
Degraded forests are more likely to be targeted for conversion to other land uses
Timber used for furniture is clearly linked to forest degradation, in which valuable tree species are harvested and the rest remain. After the valuable trees are removed, the land is typically burned, releasing more of the forests’ stored carbon into the atmosphere. Then the land is converted. Taken together, these emissions account for a quarter of all emissions worldwide.
True sustainability takes responsibility for the whole life cycle.
Recycling rates for plastics are as low as 9%, and furniture is near 0%. This is why our products come back to us at the end of their use. Cyrc ensures the materials never become waste entering landfills or the natural environment.
There’s no excuse not to use recycled materials and promote a shift in manufacturing and consumption
We’ve extracted a lot of oil to make plastic that is both extremely durable and able to be used again and again. It's inexcusable to let it go to waste. The plastic that we don't recycle ends up in our environment and our food chain, wreaking havoc.
With great design and a little 3D printing magic, we create beautiful furniture.
Large format 3D printing is an exciting frontier with the potential to change the furniture industry. With our printers we can produce on-demand, make customizations, and more easily remanufacture old products into new ones. The flexibility of 3D printing means we can reimagine the entire business model with sustainability as the foundation.
Furniture is an essential part of life, but life is full of changes. The old model of buying furniture meant to be passed down for generations doesn’t always fit contemporary living.
We design with the product’s end-of-use in mind. Our furniture is free from glues, paints, or anything that we can’t easily undo. It’s built to last, be repaired, or if needed, be remanufactured.
Online shopping and speedy shipping is an unavoidable part of the modern retail experience, but we can’t forget that shipping comes with an environmental price. We will be tracking our emissions from our supply chain and the shipping of our products. We’ll work with the best non-profits to meaningfully offset our carbon emissions and make that data available in the impact section.
Made in Montréal
Cyrc manufactures its own products using local supply chains. It’s not in our business model to ship materials and components across the globe to take advantage of cheaper labour, and it’s not part of the price you pay.
Co-Founder, Product design and manufacturing
Guy is an industrial designer and engineer. He has years of experience with additive manufacturing and leveraging computational design to create beautiful pieces tailored for that technology. Between his hardware experience and his design skills; Guy is an expert in 3D printing and equipped to achieve any project in that area. He’s passionate about building a company that places the good of the environment and people as an incontrovertible foundation.
Co-Founder, Marketing and Business Development
While doing his BFA in design at Concordia University, Daniel started offering graphic design services to startups and small businesses. He’s designed brands, packaging, spaces, clothing, websites, and managed multi-dimensional marketing campaigns. Working directly with founders he developed a wide range of skills to manage and run a business. After over eight years of experience working in agencies and businesses he’s become passionate about working on social and environmental impact projects.
It’s a collaboration, but your part is easy.
We want to move away from a linear economy towards a circular one. To do this we just need you to send your product back to us at the end of its use. We’ll make all the arrangements and there’s no additional cost.
Giving or selling your product to a new owner is great too! We support extending the life of anything we make. However, please be sure to tell the new owner to register with us, so we can honour the recycling arrangement and ensure the materials never end up as waste.