By the year 2040, Europe will have run out of raw materials for the production of concrete.
Concrete is made from sand, gravel, water, and cement, raw materials that are increasingly difficult to obtain. Sand is mostly extracted from rivers, but this sand seems to be running out. It is also possible to extract sand from the sea, but this is more expensive because the salt has to be removed. Tynke van den Heuvel, founder of start-up Studio Wae, has come up with a solution for this impending shortage of raw materials.
Which solution did Studio Wae come up with?
We found out that the only way to the future is when we handle natural resources more sustainably. Studio Wae has old concrete tiles processed into raw materials for new tiles. These consist of 76% recycled material. To achieve the right strength, some new sand and some non-recycled cement are added. Last year we paved the first recycled platform in the Netherlands sustainably with our recycled tiles for ProRail. For this platform, 20 tons of Co2 and 90 tons of new raw materials were saved.
In addition, we use production from the three largest carpet tile manufacturers in the Netherlands to make new carpet tiles. These are fitted together to create a beautiful design inspired by M.C. Escher.
How did you come up with the idea to found this start-up?
I worked for many years for our family business, a recycling company for non-ferrous metals and electronics. The idea was to turn waste streams into valuable raw materials again. Old mobile phones, for example, still contain a lot of useful raw materials that can be reused. Tiles can also be much more durable both indoors and outdoors and that’s how my company started.
Is there much competition in this area?
We are currently the only ones who can make concrete tiles with such a high percentage of recycled content. The Dutch Insitute for Building Biology and Ecology (NIBE) has approved all our environmental classifications and we have received the sustainability label with the classification A of NL Greenlabel, a label for sustainable outdoor spaces.
What are the biggest obstacles you have encountered?
Visibility is very important as a start-up. Companies have to know where to find you when they need sustainable paving solutions or indoor flooring. There is currently little budget for that.
Also, our concrete is slightly more expensive than linear tiles (tiles that are not recycled), but there is a growing awareness that we need to use our raw materials more sustainably.
What are you proud of?
I’m proud that I’ve only been around since 2017 and already have many major customers and work with many different companies to make our economy more sustainable.
What are your plans for this year?
* Attract a business partner to help build the business.
* Build even more sustainable paving
* Create more partnerships with concrete processors and project developers
* Create larger collection for wall hangings and floors
* Attract more dealers for my flooring solutions.
What is your goal for the next five years?
To scale up production with both companies.
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