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Case studies PostNL, The Netherlands

Dutch post office signals its intention to be a gamechanger in sustainability

“To survive we need to become more efficient in all areas, and that includes the way we use precious resources to best effect.”

When the stalwart of the Dutch postal service, PostNL, acquired the fast growing internet parcel service myparcel, it was immediately clear that a whole new way of working was going to be needed if the old master was not to stifle the young upstart. Led by entrepreneurs Lars and Niels Vlietman, myparcel staff wanted their working environment to match the company’s aspirations to respond to rapidly changing customer needs in the most sustainable way possible. PostNL’s workplace facilitator Marc den Dubbelden was the man charged with making this happen. He called a long time associate Marc van der Heijden of Reborn, who had recently become a Flute partner in the Netherlands. The two men travelled to the UK to find out what upcycling was all about, and were immediately hooked.

“We had been thinking of upcycling as refurbishing old furniture and using scrap to make funky products,” says van der Heijden, “but Flute opened our eyes to what is possible by transforming waste fibres into high quality products and we just had to get onto the programme.”

Flute used two tonnes of PostNL waste cardboard to create a workspace for 75 people featuring desks of various heights with a specially designed top resembling the old packaging usually thrown away by the company. Meeting tables, dry-wipe boards, seating, a reception area, and storage units were also designed and manufactured at Flute’s facilities in the UK before being loaded onto trucks that would otherwise have returned empty to the Netherlands after delivering packages to the UK.

Special messaging was devised by the client to help communicate the importance of the new approach to both staff of myparcel and those of PostNL who frequently visit the floor as the new owner attempts to learn as much as it can from its proud new brand.

Even before the installation had taken place PostNL was already planning to extend its Flute programme to other parts of the organisation, and myparcel’s founders were planning to introduce a similar programme into the new outposts they were plotting for other European markets, including the UK.

Says den Dubbelden: “It is fantastic what we are able to achieve by working together and utilising existing resources. There is no need to buy new furniture when we can have what we want from our own waste. It sounds crazy to say so, but we love the idea of sitting on our own waste materials!”

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