A new connection leads to unexpected new business
Chris Reutelingsperger has consciously chosen to involve Syntens, a Dutch innovation center, in the development of a sustainable carpet. The knowledge as well as the network of Peter Hovens, innovation consultant, led to surprising results for the problems and opportunities the ambitious entrepreneur has to deal with.
For Reutelingsperger, burning used carpets in incinerators should not longer be accepted. But due to the fact that all layers within a carpet are ‘glued’ together that a separation of layers is not possible, incinerators are the only solution so far. But even if woollen carpets would be separated, Dutch wool is polluted with heavy chemicals and pesticides that a sustainable processing would make no sense.
Cradle to cradle
Therefore, Reutelingsperger set the goal to invent and develop a 100% cradle to cradle carpet. He was supported by Yvar Monasch and his company Best Wool Carpets B.V. Together they founded ERUTAN, which is a company fully committed to the development of such a sustainable carpet. Reutelingsperger: “Together with Yvar I visited different European universities in order to come to a proof of concept. The core idea behind ERUTAN is the (reversible) connection of wool to a linen primary backing, in order to separate the materials after they reached their end of life within a carpet and to process them in another new cycle.” During these developments he got in contact with Pieter Hovens from Syntens as well.
ERDF: European Regional Development Fund
Pieter pointed to ERDF, a European Regional Development Fund to promote economic and social cohesion by correcting the main regional imbalances and participating in the development and conversion of regions, while ensuring synergy with assistance from the other Structural Funds. He assisted Reutelingsperger in writing the proposal that has been granted for funding quite soon. Reutelingsperger fully trusted in the driving forces of Syntens. “As entrepreneur you are faced with lots of paperwork, you will never get through without effective support. The independent consultants from Syntens are in close cooperation with the SME´s and especially maintain personal contacts with their entrepreneurs. Hereby they are capable to react quickly in order make promising matches.
The unexpected wool scouring line
In order to reach the cradle to cradle criteria, it is essential that the wool that is used within carpets is as clean as possible. Via Syntens ERUTAN got in contact with a regional and innovative vegetable washer. Hovens has the right connections for further development of the technology, which became the basis for the wool scouring line of ERUTAN. Thus, such a patented system leads to first positive side effects. Reutelingsperger sees this as a matter of course. “If traditional processes do not provide what you intended, you need to work by yourself.”
The entrepreneur is proud of the course that ERUTAN is following. “The combination of scientific research and pragmatic thinking partners ends up in great results. Together you will realize new development projects. We started with the carpet and now we are working with wool. During the last two years the story behind ERUTAN get significantly stronger and we see lots of other opportunities for the future. This will strengthen our position in the market as well. And Peter of course will stay involved, because he has a great value for ERUTAN.