So how would you like your bench? Cradle to Cradle certified or rather FSC? The Spanish design firm Santa & Cole, who have their own tree nurseries, have been designing different versions of their NeoRomántico street bench until the most recent version, made from 100% aluminium, earned them the Cradle to Cradle Silver certification this year.
The 2011 aluminium version of the NeoRomántico bench is made from 95% recycled materials and the bench itself is 99% recyclable at the end of its life due to easy disassembly. Moreover, 27% of the energy used during production comes from renewable energy sources, and a policy of responsible water treatment has been implemented throughout the manufacturing process.
The original, the NeoRomántico Clásico, was designed by Miguel Milá in 1995. It consists of an anti-rust aluminium sandblasted structure and solid FSC-certified wood panels. The designer himself improved this bench in 2000 by adding arms and reducing the weight of the structure at the same time, and, named it NeoRomántico Liviano.
In 2009 an effort was made to green this bench, although that time the company didn't quite succeed. This version, first called NeoRomántico “Sustainable” (video above) and now called “Color”, has a structure made of fibreglass mixed with recycled polypropylene and the panels are made of a mix of PVC (a plastic that is highly unsustainable) and plant fibres... making it a very un-cradle-to-cradle product that could only result in downcycling no matter how recycled the materials were in the beginning or how long-lasting it is.
Learning from this faux pas, Santa & Cole decided to embrace the cradle to cradle philosophy for real this time and set out to promote the 100% aluminium bench. I am happy to report that most NeoRomántico benches I see in Barcelona are the traditional FSC-certified wood ones and recently, the slick Cradle to Cradle certified aluminium bench can also be spotted more and more.