Jesper Hjortkjaer in conversation with Darragh Groeger
Mil-tek is an environmentally friendly company. ISO14001 certified, we minimize waste in production, and we encourage our customers to do the same by using our baling and compacting machines.
Our regional offices are no different, and to be a Mil-tekker is to buy into environmental thinking. Minimize waste, minimize cost.
One office in Australia took that a step further when they decided to make their new office an "upcycled, low carbon footprint office".
To find out more, we spoke with Jesper Hjortkjaer, Managing Director of Mil-tek NSW, and a Mil-tekker since 2005.
"It didn't seem too outlandish - we talk about minimizing in everything we do. We try to be environmentally-friendly in our day-to-day operations so this felt like just another part of that. Whenever we do something that will carry a carbon footprint. we look at ways to offset it.
We have a pretty small carbon footprint anyway, but when you spend all day every day explaining to customers how to reduce their carbon footprint, it is very much a part of your mindset.
"So when we started discussing the office move, we talked about it in terms of our carbon footprint. "
"We knew it couldn't be an absolutely zero carbon footprint - but we wanted to cut out as many unnecessary costs and as much unnecessary waste as possible. We knew that certain things couldn't be avoided - transport for example. But we also knew we could do things to minimize the amount of packaging waste from new materials. That's when we talked about reusing.
"We decided to challenge ourselves to buy no new furniture for the office."
Mil-tekkers talk rubbish every day. They talk waste, waste separation, waste costs, waste reduction - everything...!
"'Let's Talk Rubbish' is one of the slogans we have on the walls. We see how much was is used in organisations around New South Wales and what can be recycled. When we decided to build rather than buy furniture, pallets seemed like a pretty easy choice because we use and reuse so many of them.
"My son and I build them. We took the frames and legs from the old desks and tables and assembled table tops using pallet wood. We created a herring-bone pattern to interlock the wood around the frame.
"The office was closed over the Christmas period, so we decided to do it then. Pretty soon the whole family was involved!"
Many of the pallets have shipping labels stamped on - it was decided early on to leave these as they were.
"We sanded down the wood to give it a smoother, cleaner feel. We spray-painted then with a light grey paint, then rubbed it clean before it dried. Another quick sanding and then we coated it in a light pigmented oil to give it that perfect rustic look.
"We also used pallets along the walls, the skirting boards and for the interior dividers.
"I love the feel of them - the wood feels 'lived in' like it has a story to tell."
"The windows are all recycled windows, bought locally. That allowed us to section off parts of the office while keeping the open plan feel.
"We imported 'Troldtekt' from Denmark, which are acoustic panels made from natural, recyclable material. That was one of the few 'new' purchases, but it's a fantastic material. We could, of course, have used a standard building material but we wanted to find the most environmentally friendly one we could.
"In a busy office, there will always be at least one person on the phone, so Troldtekt was ideal to dampen that sound... I'm pretty loud myself! But not only that, it's made from natural material, has a rustic look and is completely biodegradable. That suited us perfectly."
"We wanted to keep the decor in theme. Instagram is a great source of inspiration for this sort of thing.
We reused old coffee bags and picked up items in local shops to add to the authenticity. We asked around and rooted out bits and bobs people had stored away at home. The theme is of course, “Blue is Green”.
And the gramophone....?
"That was a charity shop find. I'm not that old!"