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tom rossau

Tom Rossau:
"Being part of the transition is an absolute no-brainer to us. If we don't take care of our planet, we die"

Lamp designer Tom Rossau was one of the first companies to participate in our former program, Green Circular Transition. Three years later, the company has reduced packaging waste by 80 percent and embedded sustainability efforts into its DNA, driving continuous development and commitment to the planet

In a series of articles, we take a look at where our former program participants are today and how they have evolved towards increasingly sustainable business practices. In this feature, we revisit the Danish design company and sculptural lamp maker Tom Rossau and learn more about their journey to new sustainability efforts after participating in our former program, Green Circular Transition.

The EU-funded and design-driven program was aimed at small and medium-sized companies to develop new, circular business models and ran from 2019-2022.

tom rossau

“Participating in Green Circular Transition has been a game-changer for us.” 

These are the words of founder and CEO Tom Rossau, who explains that the company’s commitment to the program was born out of a need to thoroughly understand its key sustainability challenges.

Throughout the course, Tom Rossau and 39 other participating companies worked with systematic and strategic use of design methods and tools, all enhancing their business development. 

Reducing waste and prolonging life

One of the many insights the company took away from its participation was that it’s not what the eye sees that poses the greatest environmental and sustainability challenge.

The villain, however, was the product packaging and steel components, which, kilo for kilo, undoubtedly made up the most significant environmental impact.

“Thus, that’s where we have chosen to invest,” Tom Rossau says, highlighting that they have succeeded in implementing flat-packed products in their business, reducing packaging waste by up to 80 percent. 

Also, they have removed all plastic parts from their packaging.

Tom Rossau keeps adding to the portfolio of new sustainability measures, as they’ve also implemented designs for disassembly as a core principle in many of its products. 

This makes it easy for customers to repair and replace product parts at home and minimizes the need for packaging return transport. Ultimately, this method increases the longevity of the product. And when the product life is over, it’s just as easy to separate all product parts and electric components, ensuring correct waste disposal.

It’s a no-brainer

When asking Tom Rossau himself how he views the almost 20-year-old company’s commitment to the green transition, the answer is simple.

“To us, contribution to the green transition is an absolute no-brainer. We must develop and evolve our company in a more sustainable and future-proof way. It’s quite existential because if we don’t care for our planet, we die. It makes sense not to screw up our own nest, pardon my french”, Tom Rossau says.

However, Toms adds that it’s all a process; “you must be comfortable with that.” He also highlights that the company is far from the finish line but continuously finds new potential to upgrade its product portfolio in a more climate-friendly way. 

For example, by implementing design for disassembly in an increasing number of products and continuously looking into replacing more product parts with less carbon-intensive versions, such as steel components.

"To us, contribution to the green transition is an absolute no-brainer. We must develop and evolve our company in a more sustainable and future-proof way. It's quite existential because if we don't care for our planet, we die"

It pays off

The economic benefits of shifting production to a more circular and sustainable orientation are also beginning to emerge. Above all, Tom Rossau finds that their products appeal to customers and projects where sustainability and environmental focus are the most important parameters.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic, the following rise in interest rates, and, not least, inflation have all been factors slowing down this development, but the light at the end of the tunnel is now becoming increasingly clear.

What also helps the company is their relatively small and local size, which allows them to have close contact with their customer base.

“If our customers have a need, we can easily accommodate them. Let’s say they have new internal sustainability requirements that our products have to meet; we can offer a very customized solution. Here, having our production locally in Denmark also becomes advantageous,” Tom explains. 

Sustainable bottom line

Tom Rossau and his team initially stepped into Green Circular Transition with an outspoken need to go from assumptions and guesswork to a more factual-based knowledge of their environmental footprint.

“We needed as much input from experts as possible to move forward in this process. And that’s exactly what we got.” Tom Rossau says.

They wanted to widen their horizon on sustainability and the circular economy and create a more circular business model.

One of the key design tools the company used during their participation was the “Sustainable Bottom Line” tool, which allowed them to look at the numbers and identify where to minimize emissions.

Do you still use the tool today? 

“It’s in the back of our minds, but at the moment, we’re most concerned about our product practice rather than looking specifically at the core numbers – not that they’re not important, they are.”

“But we’re not there yet,” says Tom Rossau, adding that this area is in their pipeline because the numbers can tell them much more about their reduced footprint and show them where they should invest more in the future.

Read the first case with Tom Rossau here.

"We needed as much input from experts as possible to move forward in this process. And that's exactly what we got"

Companies demand new design skills

In one of our recent surveys, Design Delivers Green from 2022, it becomes evident that 61 percent of Danish companies demand the necessary design skills to succeed in the circular transition. In addition, 58 percent of companies demand competencies and knowledge of user and customer needs within the circular transition (Design Delivers Green 2022).

The survey also shows that 82 percent of companies with a fully circular business model report that going circular has positively impacted the bottom line.

About Tom Rossau

Tom Rossau designs sculptural lamps that increase the quality of life at home. The lamps are designed and built by hand in Frederiksberg from carefully selected materials. With their clean and organic design, the lamps are based on a Scandinavian tradition that values quality and durability.

Number of employees: 12
Founded: 2005

Gry Brostrøm

Mission Driver

Phone +45 3115 8670
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