South-African based Gearhouse Group have introduced several initiatives to mitigate the companies’ impact on the environment and improve the sustainability of the operation.
In 2017, Sets Drapes Screens (Pty) searched for ways to recycle the waste associated with set manufacture. Bespoke set pieces were designed for once-off use on events. The SDS branches have initiated recycling initiatives; the community will donate each of the workshops scrapped set pieces at designated drop off points for use.
Thomas Wood, Draughtsman at SDS’s Cape Town facility in Bellville, said: “While walking in the factory, I would constantly see off-cuts of board being thrown into the skip. It is impossible to keep all the off-cuts as the pile builds up so quickly that it takes over the much-needed manufacturing space. I decided to come up with a new idea to proactively make use of the off-cuts. After a brainstorming session with Branch Manager Burger Smith, I created a 3D drawing, some CNC layouts and the first chair ‘# tag’ came into being. The natural progression was, of course, ‘why not create a table as well?’ Once I had come up with a plan, I made the stool and table components interchangeable using a flat pack design. We also have a lot of thinner 9mm and 6mm offcuts and I am thinking about moving into designing some modular Lighting fixtures, with a similar look and feel.”
“The materials are off-cuts so we are able to keep the pricing low. That won’t change unless clients need a large volume order, which necessitates the purchase of specific materials. These pieces are creative and different and are being taken up by clients for both offices and exhibition stands but at the moment the uptake by our own staff has been phenomenal, we can’t make them fast enough,” Wood explained.
For the moment, the SDS offcuts will be offered nationwide in the future. “This method of cutting down on waste will most likely become part of the SDS ethos. Being the creative people we are, this could lead to other opportunities. Who knows where it will end up? As Edwin Land says, ‘An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.’ And we have nothing to lose but waste.”