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Episode 122: Herman Miller’s Iconic Chair Gets an Ocean Plastics Makeover (Transcript)

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[00:00:00] Liz Bothwell: Hi everyone, welcome to Waste360's NothingWasted! Podcast. On every episode, we invite the most interesting people in waste recycling and organics to sit down with us and chat candidly about their thoughts, their work, this unique industry and so much more. Thanks for listening and enjoy this episode.

[music]

[00:00:27] Liz: Hi everyone. This is Liz Bothwell from Waste360. I'm with Gabe Wing from Herman Miller and Dune Ives from Lonely Whale. Welcome and thanks for being on the show today.

[00:00:38] Dune Ives: Thanks for having us.

[00:00:39] Liz: I'm thrilled you're here. Gabe, it seems that Herman Miller has been on its own sustainability journey since the '50s. Are you able to give us a top-level highlight of that journey?

[00:00:50] Gabe Wing: Absolutely. At Herman Miller, I think our passion for the environment can be traced back to the founder of our company, D. J. De Pree. D. J. very much created an organization that was values-driven. One of those values that's become a red thread that runs through everything we do is this belief that we have an obligation to be a good steward of the Earth's resources. The way that that value has manifested itself over the years, I think, has changed as we've learned more.

We worked in different areas, but you can go back through our corporate archives and find a statement for the napkin sketch that somebody captured where, in 1953, the founder of Herman Miller said that Herman Miller shall be a good steward of the Earth's resources. I think that that ethos and that value is present today. That's the reason that we're connected to the organization this way.

[00:01:54] Liz: That's fantastic. I love to see that history. Dune, it's so nice to have you back. I'd love to hear how things have progressed for you from your perspective since then, how you're tracking to your 2025 goals. Before we do that, can you just set the stage on NextWave and tell us more about that?

[00:02:15] Dune: Yes, I'd be happy to. It's so nice to be back, Liz. We, at Lonely Whale, helped launch NextWave Plastics in December of 2017 and Herman Miller was one of our founding corporate members. We've been on this journey together for the last, oh my gosh, it's really been four years, Gabe, since we met that very first meeting that we met in December of 2017 to explore this. We are happy to say we are on track with meeting our 2025 goals.

I think I've learned so much from the member companies about both the process to source the new material, as well as the process and the timeline it takes to be able to fully integrate something new into an existing product. This announcement by Herman Miller, by Gabe and team, is one of the most exciting things that we've seen come out of NextWave Plastics. I think, because we've all been anticipating, over the last four years, the incredible announcement that they were going to make.

It's not the first product that has integrated ocean-bound plastic. I think, for me, looking at the progress that Herman Miller has made, just gives me all the confidence in the world that we will not only hit but likely exceeds our 2025 goal of integrating a minimum of 25,000 metric tons of ocean-bound plastic into products that will never make their way back into the ocean. I have to take it if I can. I know when we first started working together, we all joked about how amazing it would be to find a Herman Miller chair on a beach. It's just discarded.

I would love that. I would love to walk along the beach and find a Herman Miller chair [laughs]. But the reality is that no one's going to pass this chair into a river or lake or a waterway. We can be rest assured that this material is permanently locked up into, not only this product but the other products that Herman Miller and others are creating. It's very exciting.

 

[00:04:30] Liz: It is exciting. Go ahead, Gabe. Sorry.

 

[00:04:33] Gabe: No, I was going to say, Dune, I too hope nobody ever finds or use their own chair floating or at the side of the beach. But if they do, we'll make sure that we collect it, recycle that, and turn that into another chair for sure.

 

[00:04:50] Dune: [laughs] I see a scavenger hunt in our future where there is no winner. No one will find it. We're all winners because then we'll find them [laughs].

 

[00:05:00] Liz: [laughs] I think that's the perfect outcome for that. We're talking about Herman Miller's iconic Aeron Chair and I was so happy to see that announcement, too. That it now contains two and a half pounds of ocean-bound plastic in each one. What's amazing to me, Gabe, is that you guys didn't sacrifice any of its beautiful design. Can you talk a bit more about that process and how your team did that?

[00:05:25] Gabe: Sure. When we started work with NextWave, in the back of your mind, you're like, "Hey, if I want to make an impact, what's the product where we can really drive a lot of volume and make an impact?" The team at Herman Miller, I think we cared around this ambition of being able to influence a product like the Aeron Chair. In order to get there, it takes time and the idea of working really closely with the material suppliers, identifying what ocean-bound plastics are available.

Then working with the NextWave collection of companies to make sure that we've got the right partners inside our supply chain and we understand what materials are available, what are the opportunities that we have to incorporate them to our products. Going through that exercise, number one, it's matching up what materials are available, the volumes we need, the quantity, and the colors. Then working with our existing suppliers, our injection molders to make sure that we can process these different materials.

We're moving from a well-characterized new plastic rate a virgin material that happened to be used before to these recycled materials. It's not just a matter of dropping the recycled plastic into your existing process. We've got to make sure that we can mold it, that we're getting good parts and those parts are durable and they're aesthetically appropriate. The color matching, all of that. That takes time. That whole journey led up to this point where we're able to announce that we've had it up to 2.5 pounds of plastic in our black versions of the Aeron Chair.

Which reflects the work of so many people inside, outside of Herman Miller in order to make that happen. I can tell you, it's not easy. Having people understand what we're trying to do big picture and address this global issue, I think it's easy to get resources, get people fired up about solving the problem that we're addressing with the ocean-bound plastic. Then the idea of having people understand that, maybe this recycled plastic, this ocean-bound plastic, it's like a premium material and so we're rebranding that.

It's been super exciting to work with Dune and her team and the rest of the NextWave members on this journey as we start to incorporate the ocean-bound plastics into our products.

[00:08:13] Liz: Fantastic. I love how you admit that it's not easy, but you still weathered in changing the material because I'm sure that affected your entire line.

[00:08:24] Gabe: If you saw some of the first parts that came out of the tool, they would have been what you called short shots and the part didn't really fill it. If you can imagine getting a half or a quarter of the Aeron frame, that's what we're dealing with. The easy thing would have been to say, "Hey, it didn't work", but that's just not the approach of the team that we had. We worked through those challenges and we've got a product that looks and performs like the Aeron Chair you would expect.

[00:08:56] Liz: Fantastic. Dune, tell me, how did the pandemic affect your work in the supply chains that are critical to make all of this succeed?

[00:09:07] Dune: One of the things that we were particularly paying attention to during the pandemic is exactly that, how was it going to be affecting the supply chain. We knew that a couple of years prior, when China passed its, I think, landmark policy to no longer accept waste materials unless they were of a certain quality and in a certain form, it really dramatically affected the supply chain of our NextWave member companies that were working with fishing gear.

It became more difficult to ship it. It took longer, they waited longer in the port so we started seeing backlogs. What we fully expected during the pandemic was the ocean-bound plastic supply chain that Herman Miller and the other NextWave member companies were working so diligently to develop and to source from would experience slowdowns as well. What we didn't expect, Liz, during the pandemic was how much more committed the NextWave member companies would become and how much more ever resolved they would have. I guess it's fair to say in their commitment to sourcing this material, and to really care for the communities from which this material is coming from.

In some cases, we saw some of our member companies actually triple their orders to give assurances to communities that they were going to be there for the long haul, and stick with us. "This is not going away. Our commitment is real. Our commitment is long-term. Our commitment is to you, it's to the ocean." During the same timeframe, although none of us could travel, member companies, and our Lonely Whale team's the same, none of us were traveling anywhere. We spent a lot of time working together virtually on what we call our NextWave Plastics framework for socially responsible ocean-bound plastics supply chains.

We took this opportunity, we took this time as a consortium to really make sure that we were really aligned on how we saw our work in regards to the communities from where the material is coming from. What is it that we hold to be true about these social impacts we want to have, and then how do we start to engage others in this process during this, "Downtime." Really wasn't downtime for anyone, but it was an opportunity to really make sure that we were really aligned and we were moving forward as diligently and strategically as we possibly could on behalf of these communities.

While Herman Miller was busy getting this incredible announcement ready to go, and others were reinforcing recommitting to the communities in which this plastic was going the NextWave member companies, including Herman Miller, were busy at work, continuing to advance our own knowledge, our progress, the standards we hold ourselves accountable to, so that we could make sure when we came out of the pandemic, we were evolving in our thinking, and not really resting on our laurels, I guess is another good way of putting it.

There was a lot of action, a lot of activity, a lot of incredible strategic thinking, and collaboration that really has taken place over the last year and a half. We'll really some of this more in the fall and in the winter, but I feel like coming out of the pandemic, Gabe, Herman Miller, and the other companies, I feel like we're in such a strong position. We've got these strong products that have come out as a great foundation to build from, and then also just a growing collective awareness and commitment to the social side of the impact that we can have as well. 

[00:13:27] Gabe: Yes, Dune, thanks for bringing that up because for me personally what's really exciting about being part of NextWave, absolutely we're making an impact from an environmental perspective on a global issue, but I think just as important is the social impact that we can create. As we start to stand up these supply chains to help collect and gather this ocean-bound plastic across the globe, we're creating jobs and incomes for people who otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity to make money.

By creating demand for this waste material and signaling to the marketplace that, "Hey, we can gather at scale, and we can make fantastic products using that." The fact that we're, hopefully-- the intent is to create an uplift these people and parts of the world who don't have jobs, and starting to create the social framework from an assessment standpoint, to make sure that we're doing this all properly and not creating negative impacts.

I think having spent, as you mentioned the past 18 months or so, trying to codify that and then work with some other NGOs to make sure that the right things are happening on the ground. That part of it, I think also feels super rewarding for us to be part of, and it's a combination of the environmental and social impact that we can create. I think that gets everybody excited at Herman Miller to be part of this project.

[00:15:05] Liz: I love to hear that, and I love to hear the impact you're having on the ground and to humanize the waste pickers, and really create an economy for them. That's fantastic.

[00:15:15] Dune: That's what it's really all about. It's a reflection, I think, as well during the pandemic that these communities. You call them waste cleaners or waste pickers or whatever label we tend to think of them as, these are the people on the frontline. This is the fence, and this is what is these individuals in these communities, these humans are what is preventing this material from getting into the ocean.

They can't do it unless they can make money at it, and to be able to have the confidence, and is going to continue, they need companies like Herman Miller to say, "We're going to buy this." We're not doing a one-time product. If that was going to happen, that would have happened two years ago, Gabe. You could have come out with that a couple of years ago, but what we're showing and what we're demonstrating to these communities, that were some of the hardest hit by the pandemic.

We had more waste being collected than ever before. We had in the States and elsewhere where we have more, I guess you call it Western formalized waste management infrastructure, even that was starting to erode, and we were no longer able to see everything recycled that we once thought we could in the United States and abroad, but these communities need to know that companies are going to be there for the long haul.

When they collect this material, they start to build their entire community around it, and they start to count on this income for their child's education or for a community center they want to build, or to have a bank account for the first time and start saving money. However, they define success. They need to know it's there for the long haul, and that is something that's really exciting when you see a company like Herman Miller come out with not just one incredible iconic product that is making a difference, but multiple products.

Now the entire company is thinking about this and they're really committed to this, and they're committed to those communities. That's where I feel like really significant change can happen, and that's one of the reasons why this-- it took a long time, but you know what? I feel like it should. I feel like for real systemic change to take place, it shouldn't happen overnight. We should expect that it's going to be company's time to get it right, because when you take the time and you get it right, and you involve the multitude of stakeholders that Gabe and team have done at Herman Miller, then you have a long-term commitment.

I don't know, Gabe, if you have thoughts on that as well, but that to me it's one of the biggest learnings from an environmentalist standpoint, is that if we want companies to change, we need to have the patient, and we need to have the fortitude to be able to recognize that real systemic change takes time.

[00:18:13] Gabe: Super well said, Dune. I think the conversations that we had with our leadership team earlier on was, we could've gone out and added ocean-bound plastic to a simple existing product, or we could have created some sort of a trinket, and that wasn't the intent. The way that we framed it up is ocean-bound plastic it's going to be an innovation platform for us, and it's going to help us increase the amount of recycled content we have in our products. We're going to create social impact.

It's got the ability to reduce the amount of carbon inside our products as well, and if you look at the work that we've done today, we're not just talking about the Aeron Chair. That is the product that, I think, gets everybody excited, but a couple of months ago previously, we launched a textile collection using ocean-bound plastic, and recycled materials in general, even a biodegradable polyester.

We've got plants on our way to incorporate ocean-bound plastics into another one of our [unintelligible 00:19:16]products, and our new product development teams are held to a goal-- NextWave, it has their overarching goal, and last year we set an initial target to add 308 tons of ocean-bound plastic to our product lines. We're working with our new product development teams, and looking where's the opportunity where we can plug in this ocean-bound plastic into our new product development pipeline.

Those teams are asking, "What plastic parts am I making today? Where's the intersection between what ocean-bound plastics are available today in the short-term future? And how do we start adding more into our product line?" It's definitely not just the Aeron Chair. That's the piece that we're talking about that I think is the example, but this is something that's going to serve as the platform for us to work from going forward.

[00:20:12] Liz: That's fantastic. Gabe, do you see that externally, too? Obviously, it worked internally, but the fact that you're showing that this can actually be done in a wildly popular product, it must inspire others to want to at least inquire about using waste materials in their products. Are you seeing that?

[00:20:31] Gabe: It is. We're starting to see it in our supply chain. Existing suppliers who maybe work offering ocean-bound plastics, quickly when they saw the momentum, we're starting to see more pull from our suppliers. I think we're signaling to them that this is the direction we're going in. If you look at some of the other industries, I think absolutely. The fact that you've got Herman Miller as well as the other NextWave companies working on this, demonstrating this is possible, I'm really hopeful and optimistic that we're going to start to create some more demand in this area to address this global problem.

[00:21:11] Liz: Amazing. Dune, are you seeing more interest as well?

[00:21:14] Dune: I am. We have a tremendous number of suppliers that are engaging with NextWave Plastics in addition to other organizations that support companies like Herman Miller that are really interested in learning about the collaborative approach, how can you incorporate that. Because one of our series, Liz, from the last time we spoke, is we still hold very true to what we're doing. Anyone can have an impact by themselves.

The real magic comes when you have collective impact because you're learning time is decreased, your efficiencies are increased, it's more fun. Let's be honest about it. This is tough work. It's hard out there and this is a lot of fun. This is a family. It's a family of companies and it's a family of humans within these companies that are really bonded together around this. We're seeing a lot of interest in what is the model? What are the lessons learned? How can this model be replicated elsewhere?

We're seeing a lot of interest from other companies who are also doing this, and even taking the concept of ocean-bound plastic and saying, "Okay, great. What else can we do beyond this?" Which is something we always love to see from a Lonely Whale perspective is how does this birth curiosity and get more engaged? I have to say, though, if I could, I love the Aeron Chair and I love, Gabe, what you guys have done with Aeron Chair. But I think it's probably no surprise to you that the items that got me most excited a couple of years ago when you started talking about, "We could do it in here and we could actually integrate a lot of material into this", is the returnable shipping crates.

Integrating ocean-bound plastic to those returnable shipping crates, Liz, customers never see that. That is not something that you would even know about unless it was in the press release. For me, what I'm excited about, is what Gabe and their team had done. They have reached far and wide, as deep as they can into their supply chain, not just from a materiality standpoint and an engineering standpoint, but really looking at like, "Where else is there plastic? Where else is there material that we could actually replace with this ocean-bound plastic material? How do we also start looking at other ways to just reduce our overall footprint by increasing recycled content across everything that we produce at Herman Miller?"

That returnable shipping crate, for me, was the indication that Herman Miller is in this for the long haul. It is about the Aeron Chair, which is the most iconic and that is going to get everyone's so excited about where they can innovate. But I love to see this curiosity in just finding every single place that you can find to integrate ocean-bound plastic into and stop this material from getting into the ocean. That, to me, is so exciting. I think we're going to see a lot more advancements and innovation throughout the entire supply chain because of those kinds of advances.

[00:24:36] Liz: Definitely. Gabe, that's so exciting to me because I often write about, obviously, recycling, waste, and the end of life. The fact that Herman Miller and your team really thought of this from end to end.

[00:24:49] Gabe: Yes, I think that's just testament to the team at Herman Miller. Whether it's a supply management team, or a packaging team, taking, again, this platform and looking at how can we extend that across our entire operations. Things like reusable shipping containers are particularly sexy. We use them day in and day out, working with our supplier to figure out how much recycled content can we put inside of that container where it still performs the way it needs to.

I think along those same lines, working with our plastic bag supplier. As much as we're trying to eliminate the use of single-use plastic packaging, there is still the need to use bags. We're working with the bag supplier trying to incorporate ocean-bound plastic into an imperfect product and making those incremental changes.

I think a lot of times organizations or companies get hung up on wanting to hit a home run and you want that Aeron Chain win. You can make progress with a lot of these singles. Whether it's the shipping containers or the plastic bags, I think those things are extremely important too and they all add up in making a big impact.

[00:26:07] Liz: I bet they do. I think that's amazing. Thanks, Dune, for pointing that out. I'm so impressed by that. Dune, I read that Lonely Whale joined the Plastic Action Partnership. What is your role in that?

[00:26:21] Dune: Yes, Lonely Whale joined on behalf of NextWave Plastics to the World Economic Forum's Global Plastic Action Partnership. It's called GPAP for short. What GPAP has been doing is, similarly to NextWave Plastics, they are pulling together multiple stakeholders within a specific region to be able to identify the systemic drivers that are creating a situation where we're having so much waste material, really understanding the human impact, the community impact, and then the role of policymakers, the role of entrepreneurs, and investment capital.

What we bring to the table has been what is the role of businesses. Like Herman Miller, they'd be able to play a really strategic role in helping to eliminate waste and increase the circular economy perspective. But again, making sure that this is a systemic change and it's not something that just happens for the next two to three years. We've loved following the progress of GPAP. Quite honestly, we're really honored to be invited to become a member.

Really looking forward to how we can continue to share our learnings, learn from them. I think the development from the NextWave Plastics member companies as the first-ever framework for socially responsible ocean-bound plastics supply chains is going to be a real cornerstone of our relationship between NextWave Plastics and GPAP. They provided a lot of input from their global perspective on that framework. Really helps make sure that it was aligned with the international standards and bodies of knowledge that it needed to be.

Then, in turn, what they're really excited for from us, is to be able to share with them how we're applying it in the areas with the suppliers and the supply chain that our companies are working with and working to develop, so that we can just continue to add to our collective base of knowledge. I think that's really important because all of these entities NextWave Plastics, GPAP, The Innovation Networks, Circulate Capital, and others, we all play very, I think, complementary roles and that is such an important foundational principle of NextWave Plastics.

We all play very complementary roles to each other and it's when we come together to share these learnings that we can really grow much more efficiently and quickly. GPAP for us, we're truly, truly honored to be a member. We think very highly of the organization and how it's been approaching this plastic waste crisis.

[00:29:24] Liz: That's fantastic. I feel like even since the last time we spoke, so much progress has been made on many levels in addressing the crisis. 

[00:29:33] Dune: It has. I will say, the thing that is still striking for me, Liz, and Gabe, you're in it at Herman Miller, working with suppliers and working on these products. From our vantage point at Lonely Whale and NextWave Plastics is that we're still looking for others to really ramp up their efforts. It's exciting with this group of companies is doing, and we need to do more of it.

In fact, NextWave Plastics, I feel like is the perfect illustration of two of the simplest easiest ways to address the plastic waste crisis that came out in The Pew Charitable Trusts and SYSTEMIQ report. It's about collection and mechanical recycling, and just creating value for what's considered a waste product today. That's the perfect equation, and that's what NextWave Plastics is doing. But if we continue business as usual, by the year 2040, The Pew reports is the best we can do is 5 million metric tons of new plastic entering the ocean every year.

I think we fundamentally reject that. I think it's important to understand NextWave Plastics as a consortium is very successful. We will hit our goal. We will do everything in our power to exceed that goal. It is one initiative, and there is such opportunity for others to join, for others to go further in their commitment. I'd love, honestly, to see 25 NextWave Plastics out there. I would love to see people replicate this model and for more companies to join, so we can take these successful learnings from Herman Miller, and the incredible announcement they just came out with, and over the next four to five years, we can really exceed all of our expectations and proof that Pew report wrong.

It's a personal mission we have. I want to prove it wrong. I want to demonstrate that we can do better than 5 million metric tons of new plastic entrying the ocean every year by 2040. We reject that, but we need more companies. We need more Herman Millers, and my big hope with this announcement is that this will become so inspiring for people. Yes, it's hard. Yes, it takes a long time, but do you know what? You got Gabe, you got Gabe and the entire team at Herman Miller, and no shortage of willingness and desire to share lessons learned and to get the job done together. Gabe, I signed you up for something, I hope you don't mind.

[laughter]

[00:32:13] Gabe: Yes. I'm all in, Dune, and for me, I think Loney Whale and NextWave, your organizations, that group is focused on actions. I think it's so easy to join groups that sit around and talk., and share best practices. I think that's great, but to me what's fundamentally different about the network, and the collection of companies that you've carefully curated, is that we're focused with your team's health on driving forward and taking action. That's why we've all been able to make the impact we have collectively.

As much as we want to see, we want to see more workgroups solve this problem. To me, the secret sauce in all of this is the energy and passion of the team at NextWave, who create an environment that allows us to work together in a collaborative way to solve this problem, and we're focused on getting things done versus just talking about it. I wouldn't underestimate that. None of this happens without the team at NextWave to continue to help us pull forward it and having a bias towards action.

[00:33:37] Dune: Yes, I think that's so well said. There's a saying that we say a lot and it's, "Never confuse motion with progress." We are very committed to that action, and it's very specific, Liz, for that 25,000 metric tons, but also creating this network of ocean-bound plastics suppliers.

In that network then gives companies like Herman Miller, confidence that they need to know that there's continuity in supply chain, especially when we're working in so many areas where there's not only a civil unrest, but how many natural disasters has Haiti had over the last few months. If we are only pulling out of one country and only supporting one country, if that supply chain is disrupted for any period of time, then it's going to cause problems, and we want to make sure that it was that continuity of supply of the right quality, the right quantity, and that the member companies can really have that confidence going into this.

Yes, you're right. You're totally right, Gabe, and I think you too, as well. What's great about the next set of member companies, Liz, is that they challenge each other. I'll never forget one meeting, actually, it was at Herman Miller headquarters, and we had this another member company, I think they said, Gabe, something to be effective, "Oh, this is great. But can't we do more?" I think that's like a standard question that is asked at these meetings is, "Okay, this is amazing and what's next? How can we improve? How can we have more impact?"

We get a lot from the member companies that allows us at NextWave Plastics to continue to drive forward towards that action that has real impact.

[00:35:30] Gabe: I was just going to add, if you want to feel inspired and empowered, you attend the NextWave meeting, and the energy in the room about doing more, it's real, it's visceral, and it's always exciting to be part of that group, because of the collective passion in there, and it's exciting and refreshing to see people set aside their corporate hats, to set aside the Herman Miller hat, and work collectively to figure out how we scale this effort.

It's a wonderful experience. I don't know how to describe it, but when you're in a room of smart, passionate people with brilliant ideas on how to solve problems, that's how you get this multiplier effect. Again, that's where the magic happens when you've got the right collection of people. I think that's what NextWave does, they put us in a room whether it's virtual or real life, and the energy there is what helps drive us all forward in the right direction, I think.

[00:36:43] Liz: I love hearing that, and the commitment that that entire group has, Dune, is just amazing. The work that you're all doing and the people you're inspiring, I just can't wait to see what is next as you all challenge each other.

[00:37:00] Dune: Yes. I think the challenge also comes in the form of a member company being willing to raise their hand and say, "I love where we're going with this. The reality is though, it's going to be really complicated to get it done." We're committed to it, but how do we want to move forward smartly?

Gabe, I actually think it was you. I give you credit for this, at the Herman Miller meeting that we had a couple of years ago, where we started talking about social responsibility, and you raised your hand, you're like, "Yes, we need to do this, and this is complicated. How we think about this across all of the companies is going to be really different. Let's take a step back first. Let's walk before we run." Then resulted in this, I think really solid framework for social responsibility.

That's what we also look for from the companies, is how to push each other, how to support each other, and how to also bring their expertise to the table and know that they have a forum, and they have a group of professionals, we have all the chief sustainability officers sitting around the table. This is a group of incredibly talented experts at the table, bringing the best of what they know how to do in a way that it really does truly create a collaborative moment. It really is the magic it's about the people as well, and how they show up, how they show up for each other. That's why we're really careful in who we bring to the consortium because we want to make sure that that magic continues.

[00:38:57] Liz: Gabe, do you have any advice for a brand or company who's thinking of entering this? Because I feel like you're so good at being transparent about the challenges, but the end result is so worth it. Do you have any advice for getting started?

[00:39:14] Gabe: Yes. I would say think big and start small, and take your time. You can rush into it, but it took us several years to figure out what the right path forward was for us. We learned a lot. The other thing I would say is find somebody who's already on the journey, and learn what you can for them. Whether it's Herman Miller or one of the other NextWave companies.

Reach out, and pick the shortcut where you can.

I don't mean that in a negative way, but if somebody has got some learning along the way. I'm a big fan of the learning from others. I'd say reach out and get some shortcuts along the way, and then figure out what makes sense for your company, your organization to go forward on, and find that intersection between your value. The big problems we're dealing, and then let's solve them together.

[00:40:12] Liz: I love that. How about you, Dune?

[00:40:16] Dune: The piece of advice I would give to anyone wanting to do either this or something new is to be really curious, and I think, check your ego. Solving for the plastic waste crisis requires all of us to, I think, cast aside the way that we think things should work, and to be willing to ask questions, be willing to receive input, be willing to be vulnerable.

I think to realize that you don't have all the answers. If we had all the answers, we wouldn't be in this situation. I think that's the most important thing is be willing. In addition to what Gabe said, 100% agree, but I think be willing to be vulnerable and to be excited about getting input from others. Then together we can really make change happen.

[00:41:23] Liz: I love that, and I love this partnership. What an amazing announcement, Gabe, and I'm so happy to see what Herman Miller is doing. Even beyond the iconic chair. It's really impressive, and you're walking the walk, and talking the talk so congrats to you and your team.

[00:41:39] Gabe: Thank you very much.

[00:41:40] Liz: Dune, what's next for NextWave?

[00:41:44] Dune: We are releasing this fall the very first framework for socially responsible ocean-bound plastic supply chains. This is really exciting. We're looking forward to getting a lot of input on it from folks who haven't yet been able to provide input. We are working closely with a couple of organizations to be able to put this framework into practice so that we can evolve it. But importantly, so we can really start to understand where different suppliers are in the maturity maps that we've built.

How, as a consortium, we can work together to make sure conditions in the communities where this material is coming from are of the highest standards and aligned with those communities' interests and needs. That is one of the biggest things we have coming out this fall. We'll also be announcing some new members this fall, which we're really excited for. I think just continuing to progress towards our 2025 goal and challenging ourselves to how we can really exceed that.

[00:42:59] Liz: Fantastic. I've no doubt you'll exceed that. I really appreciate both of you being on the show today. I've learned so much and you're really inspiring to us. Thank you both for being here.

[00:43:12] Dune: Thank you for having us. It's really a pleasure. Gabe, I fully expect we're going to do this more often. I'm very excited, too. Congratulations on what you just released from Herman Miller. It's really exciting.

[00:43:25] Gabe: Thanks for the kind words, Dune and Liz. Very much appreciate the time to share a little bit about what we've been working on.

[00:43:32] Liz: Amazing. Thank you both. You two are very good at this together, so please do it more [laughs]. 

[00:43:40] Dune: [laughs] You got it. Liz, it was nice to talk to you again.

[00:43:44] Liz: You too. Congrats again, Gabe. I really can't wait to watch what else you all do. This is fabulous.

[00:43:52] Gabe: Stay tuned. I'm excited about where we're going as well. Look for the opportunity to chat again.

[00:43:59] Liz: Okay, would love that so keep us posted, please.

[music] 

 

TAGS: Plastics
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