As you can see in our gallery, last month at Milan Coca-Cola took the wraps off of a special variant of Emeco's Navy chair made from 111 recycled Coke bottles. The project has been a long time coming:
About four years ago, in 2006, Coca-Cola came to us at Emeco with a proposal. Their recycling plant in Spartanburg South Carolina was brand new and processing thousands of plastic bottles a day and they were looking for ways to show the value of recycled plastic. Everywhere else in the world people recycle about 80% of their bottles while in the US we recycled only about 20%.
Coke asked us to make the classic Navy Chair out of a new, unproven formulation of rPET (Recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate- recycled plastic bottles). They introduced us to the scientists at BASF the international chemical innovator and together we developed proprietary mix made of about 60% and a special combination of pigment combined with glass fiber for strength.
In Coke-Speak, "The goal of the 111 Navy project was to alter consumer behavior by illustrating the value of rPET with beautifully designed and everyday products - ultimately encouraging more recycling."
Hit the jump for some production-method-geek goodness about the special mold required to make the chair.Requiring a state-of-art mold, the new 111 Navy Chair includes the original stretcher (structural brace) below the seat. This detail not only assures authenticity, but creates great structural integrity. The 111 Navy Chair carries a 5-Year structural guarantee. The new 111 Navy Chair is available in six colors: Red, Snow, Flint Gray, Grass Green, Persimmon and Charcoal. Snow, Flint and Red can be used outdoors. The new chair has a distinctive, "velvet" finish that is scratch resistant. The new chair passes California and UK Fire Codes, along with BIFMA structural testing for commercial use.
Replicating the original Navy Chair in recycled plastic required an advanced molding technique, and the expertise of Magnus Breitling, Emeco's esteemed Director of Product Development. The gas assist process adds internal structure to the chair while minimizing the amount of material required. The chair body is manufactured upside down in a special core island while a robotic function inserts the stretcher into place while the chair is still hot. The entire mold runs at an elevated temperature to yield optimum surface appearance and color. At three minutes per chair, It takes three times longer to make a 111 Navy Chair than a typical plastic chair.
Gregg Buchbinder, remembers, "When Coke came to me with this project I jumped on it. It's a huge investment for a small company, but we have the potential of reusing the PET from about 3 million plastic bottles a year. That's a lot of bottles and a lot of chairs too. The new chair is the strongest, and most beautiful we can make. We've turned something you throw away into something you want and can keep for a long, long time."