Want to know more about this article?
Dutch entrepreneur pitches for millions of English people
Sunday, January 13 is the moment of truth for Robert Milder. Then this Dutch founder and CEO of Van de Sant Innovations from Emmen enters the den of dragons, or rather Dragons Den. This successful TV show on BBC Two has been a favorite program in England for years with an average of 3 million viewers per episode.
The program offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to realize their dream by pitching their plans to a five-member jury of top entrepreneurs. The best ideas are rewarded with a hefty financial injection. Pitching Robert does almost every day, but does he know how to convince the five “Dragons” of the need for durable furniture that prevents plastic waste, or does it also become a Brexit for him?
Stray plastic as raw material
The world is changing rapidly. Five years ago, plastic was still a highly appreciated packaging material, but now it is at the center of the global debate about the harmful effects in nature and especially in our oceans. The condition of the oceans in 2019 has never been so bad. Animals and plants are seriously threatened. To halt the amount of stray plastics, the European Union adopted a law by the end of 2018 that bans the use of disposable plastic by 2021, and global brandowners also openly publish their strategies to halt the use of disposable plastic and encourage recycling.
But shutting down the tap is only part of the solution. What to do with the 150 million tons of plastic waste that is already floating in the ocean? Van de Sant Innovations has developed a circular earnings model that uses both land and ocean stray plastic as a raw material for high-quality products, such as design furniture.
Wood and textile elements are replaced by stray plastics, making Van de Sant Innovations furniture consist of 75 to even 90 percent circular plastic. This makes their products extremely suitable for re-manufacturing, so that the material can be used again and again and no materials are lost. It is clear that this method of circular production works. The Dutch company has built up an impressive track record in a short time with customers and partners such as National Geographic, US Government and the United Nations.
Making an impact
Van der Sant has the ambition to implement product innovations with new production techniques and blockchain technology, to expand the capacity and to make an even greater impact in solving the problem of stray plastics. The pitch in the English program offers opportunities to accelerate that ambition. Robert: “With our participation in Dragons Den we hope to take this next step. But whatever happens on Sunday after my pitch, I will continue my journey, just like people like Boyan Slat, to leave the world a bit cleaner for the many generations that follow.”
Company with a mission
Van de Sant Innovations is a company with a mission. With its innovative production processes, the company hopes to turn the furniture industry upside down and to make an important contribution to stopping deforestation and plastic pollution.