As a Cradle to Cradle® company, Desso is committed to developing products that can be brought back and recycled in a non-toxic closed loop, the foundation for a regenerative circular economy. Through a rigid C2C assessment process, Desso strives to ensure its products consist of healthy materials, positive for human health and for the planet. The company vision is to develop environmentally responsible products that contribute to health and wellbeing in the built environment. This commitment to material health ensures that Desso realises this vision while its goods are in use and when they are being recycled.
In collaboration with Reststoffenunie, an association of drinking water companies in the Netherlands, Desso has found a way to upcycle re-engineered calcium carbonate (chalk) from local drinking water companies such as Brabant Water and WML (Water Maatschappij Limburg). The chalk is positively defined in accordance with C2C criteria and is used for the production of Desso's carpet tiles with EcoBase™ backing, which is C2C Silver certified and 100% recyclable in Desso's own production process. The result of this new innovation is that Desso's products with EcoBase™ backing will now contain on average 50% positively defined recycled content.
“This new development is a hugely exciting step forward in our vision to become a Cradle to Cradle® company developing products that meet high standards of creativity, functionality and are also positive to human health and the planet.”
Alexander Collot d’Escury, CEO of Desso
“The concept of recycling our waste as a material stream for Desso’s process fits perfectly with our status as the first climate-neutral drinking water company in Europe.” He added, “We are proud that our calcium granules contribute so positively to Desso’s Cradle to Cradle® carpet tiles.”
Guïljo van Nuland, CEO of Brabant Water
“More than 99% of our waste materials, especially iron and calcium, is now recycled. The innovations in this area are increasing and sometimes surprising. Our co-operation with Desso is a great example of this.”
Ria Doedel, CEO of WML
Circular economy could generate one trillion dollars a year in cost savings globally
Desso is the first carpet company in the world to use the upcycled calcium carbonate (chalk), co-created by Desso's R&D team and its partners in the water industry. It expects to draw as much as 20,000 tonnes of chalk from this circular economy waste stream for its carpet tiles in partnership with the Dutch water companies. Desso has also launched its new Transitions collection with this positively defined recycled content.
According to recent research the circular economy in total could generate one trillion dollars a year in cost savings globally through a smarter use of material streams.
Desso is a member of the collaborative network, the Circular Economy 100, organised by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Desso's CEO Alexander Collot d'Escury is a member of the steering committee of Project MainStream, a cross industry circular economy project organised by the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
“In Cradle to Cradle® philosophy, consistent and positively defined material streams are treated as nutrients for the technological or biological spheres. Our first task was to design the DESSO EcoBase® carpet tiles so that they could be disassembled when taken back in the post-consumer stage.”
Ludwig Cammaert, Desso’s chief of R&D
The next stage was to look for new circular innovations, adds Cammaert. "We are always looking for ways to utilise consistent waste streams as a nutrient for the production of our carpet tiles today."
In this case, he adds, R&D at Desso spotted along with its partners a way to use material streams from the drinking water industry, a completely different sector. The drinking water process leaves a residual of calcium carbonate after it has softened groundwater, a necessary step to make it suitable for drinking. In addition, soft water increases the life span of home appliances, as it reduces chalk deposits and therefore requires less cleaning.
“We had some challenges, but with the strong commitment and support of all the partners we were able to overcome them. Also with the help of Sibelco, an advanced global industrial minerals supplier, the calcium carbonate particle size and particle size distribution was tailored to Desso’s requirements, making this a true innovation in the value chain process.”
Ludwig Cammaert, Desso’s chief of R&D
The process utilises a material stream that might otherwise have ended up in less valuable outlets; and by sourcing and processing this material stream locally, Desso and its partners could ensure it had a positive impact on the environment, and demonstrate perfectly how circular economy thinking can be brought into practice driven by Cradle to Cradle® principles.
 Positively defined = all ingredients have been assessed as either Green (optimal) or Yellow (tolerable) according to the Cradle to Cradle® assessment criteria. As described in Cradle to Cradle® CertifiedCM Product Standard Version 3.0.
 Desso's patent for this process is pending: 1.679.011.
 Towards the circular economy, Volumes one to three (Ellen MacArthur Foundation/McKinsey, 2012-2013).