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Made to last: This French start-up turns construction waste into beautiful furniture

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© Copyright euronews
Copyright euronews
By Charlotte Elton with AFP
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Furniture is often seen as disposable but this French start-up wants to change all that.

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One person’s trash is another person’s treasure - or bespoke piece of furniture.

A small French business is saving construction waste from landfill by turning it into stylish tables, shelves, and chairs.

The French building industry generates around 50 million tonnes of waste per year.

Co-founded by four young French architects in 2019, design collective ‘Maison Tournesol’ fights back against this massive surplus.

"The linear economy is: we take, we build, it lives, and then it dies,” says Francois Bois, designer, and Maison Tournesol, co-founder.

“This is when we come in. At the moment when it dies, when it becomes waste, we say no, we stop it.”

What is a circular economy?

In a circular economy, materials are reused and recycled for as long as possible. This creates a closed loop system where waste is minimised and resources are conserved.

Maison Tournesol helps save two tons of waste and six tons of CO2 emissions, Bois claims.

Sustainability is the future

The Toulouse workshop is filled with iron rods, metal structures and aluminium panels rescued from the junkyard.

Sustainability is the future, the architects insist.

"We said to ourselves that in order to have a competitive advantage - because it's very hard to get started when you're a young architect or a young designer - we were there, we really need to have something that responds to the problems of our time, so in this case the future shortages of energy and materials,” said Bois.

“We said to ourselves: well, we're going to reuse as part of a circular economy and that's going to be our battle horse with Tournesol."

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The construction industry generates vast amounts of waste, most of which ends up in landfill.canva

Is government policy encouraging less waste?

New regulations are making the circular economy a reality in France.

Since March 2021, the Anti-waste for a Circular Economy (AGEC) law has required that between 20 per cent and 40 per cent of supplies purchased by public services are from reuse or include recycled materials.

The French government has also introduced a policy of Extended Producer Responsibility. Under this policy, producers are responsible for the end-of-life disposal of their products.

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“It is very important to grab [the material] before it becomes waste because it's very complicated - with the legislation in France - to recover waste,” Bois said.

“So, just before it becomes waste, we get to that level, and then we recover the material to start a new cycle, we use it as a raw material and then it has a life of its own.”

Streamlined and easy to assemble, mixing metal and wood, yellow, white and black, the first range of "Zero" furniture - for zero carbon, zero waste and zero effort - was launched in 2022.

Building on its success, Maison Tournesol is launching its second collection, named ‘Mono’ for its striking single colour design.

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Watch the video above to learn more.

Video editor • Hannah Brown

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