Orangebox – placing responsible design at the heart of its business

Orangebox: Cradle to cradle design

Orangebox is a furniture design and manufacturing company with sustainability at the heart of its operations. Based outside Cardiff, Orangebox realises its large impact it has on the environment through material use in products, and the processes used to put them together. Their front-end design process recognises the importance of material sustainability and longevity. Orangebox wants to eliminate the use of toxic materials in their value chain and encourages circular economy approach for products at ‘end of life’ stage.

All wood used in production is 100% FSC and PEFC certified, with 78% of suppliers based in the UK. 100% of electricity in the South Wales facility comes from wind and hydro energy.

In 2007, Orangebox opened a recycling plant in South Wales, where old office chairs could be returned, whether one of their own or not. The chairs are assessed to see whether they can be reused after their one cycle life and donated to Saint David’s Foundation, a charity providing hospice care in South Wales. All other chairs are disassembled into different separate materials and recycled.

Orangebox developed and manufactured the first Cradle to Cradle certified office chair in Europe in 2009. The ARA Task chair turned conventional office chair design on its head in order to achieve 98% recyclability. The frame and back membrane eliminated fasteners and binding materials for an interference fit. Binding materials together is an irreversible process and once binding materials are applied, it renders the recipient material parts unrecyclable. The interference fit allows for smooth design and easy disassembly. The new arm part is a single material component which can easily be broken down into constituent parts. The ARA Task chair has resulted in a reduced raw material exhaustion and production costs.

Overall, Orangebox have over doubled their annual turnover whilst also reducing material waste by 30% in just 3 years.

Orangebox have been recognised for their contributions to sustainability through their low carbon, circular economy and cradle to cradle approach, winning the Furniture Maker’s Sustainability Award in 2013. 

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