What is it? Chainable produces modular, circular and sustainable kitchens as a service for the professional market. Chainable kitchens are equipped with the most energy-efficient appliances. Additionally, the company ensures that all the materials remain in use in a circular manner by extending material lifetimes by creating partnerships with the manufacturers. The circular kitchens are modular, with a clickable installation mechanism. This eliminates the need for tiling and finishing, saving construction materials. Further, the design for disassembly design leads to undamaged walls, and no need of subsequent repair work when the kitchen is disassembled (Chainable, 2021d). The founders previously worked in the kitchen business, and observed that on average kitchens are disposed off as waste after 15 years, and that in the Dutch rental sector, more than 40,000 tons of such waste is discarded every year (Chainable, 2021a). In contrast, Chainable claims that its kitchen can last up to 60 years (Chainable, 2021b).
Why is this important? The building sector consumes approximately 40% of resources globally, and is estimated to produce 40% and 33% of global waste and emissions (Ness & Xing 2017). As kitchens have become increasingly multifunctional living spaces, past studies have found that consumers change their kitchen appliances based on aesthetic reasons rather than deterioration, resulting in more frequent modification than necessary (Esin & Cosgun, 2007; Hagejärd et al., 2020). Kitchen cabinets and appliances have been found to be major contributors to the environmental impact of the domestic homes (Hoxha & Jusselme, 2017). In the European Union, 10 million tonnes of furniture waste is discarded each year, one-fourth of which comprises kitchen furniture (European Environmental Bureau, 2017). Only 10% of this discarded household furniture is recycled, with the majority being landfilled or incinerated (European Remanufacturing Network, 2015). Chainable provides an alternative business model that prolongs material lifetimes by designing for disassembly, minimizing material use, and ensuring materials are remanufactured at the end-of-life. Further, materials from existing kitchen can be reused more efficiently to build a new kitchen at the end of the first customer’s subscription period (Chainable, 2021d).
Main resource strategy: Slowing the loop by providing appliances and modular kitchen parts as a service, that are designed for longer lifetimes and for disassembly.
Other resource strategies: Narrowing & Closing the loop by working closely with manufacturers of all its products to ensure products are taken back and dealt with properly at the end of their life. This avoids the accidental waste that might occur from incorrect waste disposal by consumers. Additionally, Chainable ensures that all their kitchens are always equipped with the most energy efficient appliances, thereby reducing energy consumption.
Business model aspects: Chainable creates modular, circular kitchens-as-a-service that are designed for disassembly.
- Value Proposition: Chainable provides different types of subscription plans for kitchens-as-a-service, with a contract term of 15-20 years (Chainable, 2021d). The company guarantees up-to-date kitchen appliances at all times. Further, the modular design of the product allows installation without any permanent fixtures, which tend to be the biggest source of construction waste during renovations.
- Value Creation & Delivery: Customers can request a quote and sign up for the service for a monthly fee through Chainable’s website (Chainable, 2021e). Chainable takes full responsibility of delivery, installation, maintenance and end-of-life disposal with partnerships with the manufacturers (Chainable, 2021d).
- Value Capture: All kitchen devices are kept up-to-date free of charge, all service and maintenance, and disassembly costs are included in the subscription fee (Chainable, 2021d). Further, the company claims that the total cost of ownership is lower than owning a traditional linear kitchen over time. This is because during refurbishment and renovation, the circular kitchen requires less maintenance (Chainable, 2021d).
Business model experimentation practices: Chainable is first testing its business model in the professional kitchen market (restaurants, offices, etc.). Upon success, the company aims to expand to homes.
Tools, methods and approaches used: Chainable uses the four principles of ‘The Natural Step’ process created by Prof. Karl Hendrik Robèrt in 1989 (The Natural Step, 2021), to design its business model practices (Chainable, 2021b). The four principles are (Chainable, 2021f):
- Do not do things where we restrict people from fulfilling their basic need.
- Do not introduce more and faster substances from the earth’s crust into the environment than nature can process.
- Do not introduce more and faster substances foreign to nature into the environment than nature can process.
- Do not destroy nature faster than the time it takes to recover.
Sustainability outcomes: The company is very new, and was founded in 2020, so there is no conclusive information on the sustainability outcomes so far. However, Chainable claims to be 82% circular, and reduce the construction waste percentage through its services. The company uses 90% recycled wood and 25% recycled metal in the construction of its kitchens (Chainable, 2021b). As of November 2021, the company claims to have planted over 200 trees and saved 11 tons of sheet material through installing 86 kitchens (Chainable, 2021c).
Chainable. (2021a). About. Accessed 24 November 2021 at: https://www.chainable.nl/ontstaan-circulaire-keuken-chainable/
Chainable. (2021b). Duurzaamheid. Accessed 24 November 2021 at: https://www.chainable.nl/the-natural-step/
Chainable. (2021c). Home. Accessed 24 November 2021 at: https://www.chainable.nl/
Chainable. (2021d). KaaS. Accessed 24 November 2021 at: https://www.chainable.nl/kitchen-as-a-service
Chainable. (2021e). Offerte. Accessed 24 November 2021 at: https://www.chainable.nl/circulaire-keuken-offerte/
Chainable. (2021f). The Natural Step. Accessed 24 November 2021 at: https://www.chainable.nl/the-natural-step/
Esin, T., & Cosgun, N. (2007). A study conducted to reduce construction waste generation in Turkey. Building and Environment, 42(4), 1667–1674. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.buildenv.2006.02.008
European Environmental Bureau. (2017). Circular Economy Opportunities in the Furniture Sector. European Environmental Bureau: Brussels, Belgium. Accessed 24 November 2021 at: https://eeb.org/library/circular-economy-opportunities-in-the-furniture-sector/
European Remanufacturing Network. (2015). Remanufacturing Market Study; European Remanufacturing Network: Aylesbury, UK. Accessed 24 November 2021 at: https://www.remanufacturing.eu/assets/pdfs/remanufacturing-market-study.pdf
Hagejärd S, Ollár A, Femenías P, Rahe U. (2020). Designing for Circularity—Addressing Product Design, Consumption Practices and Resource Flows in Domestic Kitchens. Sustainability, 12(3), 1006. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12031006
Hoxha, E., & Jusselme, T. (2017). On the Necessity of Improving the Environmental Impacts of Furniture and Appliances in Net-Zero Energy Buildings. Science of the Total Environment, 596–597, 405–416. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.03.107
Ness, D. A., & Xing, K. (2017). Toward a resource-efficient built environment: A literature review
and conceptual model. Journal of Industrial Ecology. 21, 572–92. https://doi.org/10.1111/jiec.12586
The Natural Step. (2021). Approach. Accessed 24 November 2021 at: https://thenaturalstep.org/approach/
About project Circular X
Project Circular X is about ‘Experimentation with Circular Service Business Models’. It is an ambitious research project funded by the European Research Council (ERC) which supports top researchers from anywhere in the world. Project CIRCULAR X runs from 2020-2025. The project is led by Principal Investigator (PI) Prof Dr Nancy Bocken, who is joined by a multidisciplinary team of researchers at Maastricht Sustainability Institute (MSI), Maastricht School of Business and Economics, Maastricht University. The project cooperates with businesses who want to innovate towards the circular economy.
Project Circular X addresses a new and urgent issue: experimentation with circular service business models (CSBMs). Examples of such new business models include companies shifting from selling products to selling services and introducing lifelong warrantees to extend product lifetimes. However, CSBMs are far from mainstream and research focused on experimentation is little understood. The research aims to conduct interdisciplinary research with 4 objectives:
- Advancing understanding of CSBMs; their emergence and impacts
- Advancing knowledge on CSBM experimentation
- Developing CSBM experimentation tools
- Designing and deploying CSBM experimentation labs
This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, grant agreement No. 850159.
Using this information
When you refer to this case, please use the following source:
Circular X. (2021) Case study: Chainable - Kitchen-as-a-service. Accessed from www.circularx.eu