At the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Lasse Virén stumbled and fell midway through the grueling 10,000m race. Few had heard of Virén; he was a 23-year-old policeman from Finland, not exactly cover material for Runner's World magazine.
But by the end of the race, all of the spectators knew his name. Following the fall, Virén clambered quickly to his feet, resumed running, then grindingly overtook everyone to cross the finish line first. In addition to winning the Gold Medal, he broke the 10,000m world record in the process.
Fifty years later Fortum, a Finnish energy and waste management company, has developed a "self-rising" piece of furniture called the Virén Chair. It was designed both to honor Virén and to showcase the company's recycling abilities, being made from recycled post-consumer plastic waste.
The chair's trick, if you haven't guessed, is that if it gets knocked over, it rights itself:
In addition to honoring Virén, Fortum is trying to draw attention to Circo, the recycled plastic the chair is made from. The company points out that plastic isn't going away anytime soon; it's "in many ways a superior material that is hard to substitute." However, they also point out that plastic recycling rates are poor, and thus driving demand for recycled plastic is critical.
"The consumption of plastic is growing globally all the time; the discussion around plastics should instead focus on how to increase recycling. We should make sure that the value of the material is preserved by recycling the plastic and converting the waste into reusable material whenever possible.
"Fortum wants to expand the use of recycled plastics by developing recycled plastic compounds. In this process the qualities of the recycled plastic are enhanced so that the compounds can be used for products that are more technical and challenging in terms of production, of which the Virén Chair is a good example.
"The Virén Chair is made from Fortum Circo® recycled plastic compound reinforced with cellulose fibre to strengthen the material and reduce its carbon footprint. The carbon footprint of Fortum Circo® recycled plastic is about half that of virgin plastics. The added cellulose fibre, originating from renewable sources, also absorbs carbon, further reducing the carbon footprint of the material."
Here's the chair's video, featuring present-day Virén himself:
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