Loll Designs demonstrates eco-furniture circle of life

IMG_3304As a member of 1% for the Planet, eco-friendly outdoor furniture designer and manufacturer Loll Designs is part of a global movement of companies donating at least one percent of their annual net revenues to environmental organizations. Through this initiative, Loll has made meaningful contributions to several Minnesota-based non-profits for the past few years, including $54,000 to Climate Generation since 2011.

This year, Loll continued their generous support with a $15,000 contribution toward our Climate Minnesota: Local Stories, Community Solutions project, sponsoring convenings in Burnsville, Duluth, Virginia and Minnetonka, as well as our local Brewing a Better Climate event in Duluth.

We applaud and appreciate the inspiring commitment on the part of this Duluth-based business to support climate change solutions. Upon closer examination of their eco-friendly production process, it quickly becomes apparent that Loll contributes far more than one percent of their efforts to sustaining the planet. In fact, the company recycles or reuses roughly 90 percent of its waste, putting them solidly on track to becoming a zero-waste facility in the near future.

Loll tourDuring a recent trip to Duluth for our Brewing a Better Climate and Climate Minnesota events, we had the opportunity to tour Loll’s new production space. Everything we learned about the company’s production process reinforced their dedication to sustainability at every step of the journey from plastic sheets to modern outdoor furniture. A Loll product begins its life as a plastic milk jug, which is shredded into small IMG_3307flakes and turned into sheets of recycled high-density polyethylene (HDPE). Loll buys these HDPE sheets from a plastic manufacturer and at their facility they’re cut into individual pieces of furniture based on 3D designs and nesting techniques that maximize the yield of each sheet (think arranging cookie cutters on the dough). Furniture parts are then sorted and partially assembled in preparation for shipping, with most shipped flat to save on costs and resources. Loll packages are not only efficiently packed but also contain thoughtful, eco-friendly touches, such as assembly tools created from leftover plastic and dog treats made from local breweries’ spent grain that are included with the company’s dog bowls.

IMG_3303Along the way, Loll thinks carefully about where the waste is going, especially the plastic chips and extra chunks of plastic created by the cutting process. Instead of going to a landfill, these scraps are sent to Minnesota-based Choice Plastics, which recycles and sells the plastic to a company that makes environmentally friendly drainage pipes. Loll is committed to pursuing a zero-waste product, and what makes the company so thorough in its efforts is the dedication of all the staff to that mission, from CEO Greg Benson on down. That was clear based on the tour we received from Connie Haugen and Ericka Olin, who opened their doors to us while most of the staff were in New York at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), winning an award for their latest outdoor furniture line, the Sunnyside Collection. The pair not only took time out of their day to show us around their efficient and impressively clean facility but also represented Loll at our Duluth climate events to show support for our work.

Meanwhile, others on the Loll team are hard at work showcasing their sustainable products and philanthropic ethos around the country: in addition to the New York event, they will be in Los Angeles at the end of the month for Dwell on Design, where they’ll feature the Sunnyside collection and host the popular Loll Beer Garden. After the show, they’re donating all of the furniture from the beer garden to a nonprofit working to prevent and end homelessness in LA.

In a sense, Loll’s finished product is not just their high-quality, functional and fun outdoor furniture pieces; it’s the proof that green, eco-friendly businesses can survive, prosper, and even win awards while helping save the planet. And the best part is, they have a motto of “continuous improvement,” captured in the name of one of their rooms, so we can expect even more great things ahead.

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