On June 27, RREUSE organised a site visit to a major Belgian textiles sorting facility owned by the social enterprise “Les Petits Riens”. The site visit attracted about 20 representatives from the European Commission, including from the Department for Employment (DG EMPL), Environment (DG ENV), Market, Industry & SMEs (DG GROW) and the European Economic and Social Committee. While EU officials approached the end of their mandate, they nonetheless left their desks to engage and get firsthand involvement with this top notch re-use centre. RREUSE warmly thanks the outgoing Commission for its keen interest and enthusiasm, and looks forward to developing strong ties with incoming officials of DG GROW, DG ENV and DG EMPL.
During the visit, participants gathered valuable insight into the main steps of a re-use centre such as pre-sorting, sorting, reallocating and selling of donated items. Les Petits Riens shared a baffling figure with us: resulting from the approximate 8000 annual tonnes of textiles, furniture and other goods collected, 1471 people from vulnerable and disadvantaged backgrounds reintegrated the labour market and/or benefitted from various soft, hard and technical skills trainings.
The participants also grasped the benefits of such a model and how important the link between economic, social and environmental dynamics is. EU policymakers from all three DGs engaged in direct conversation with the social enterprise’s staff including volunteers, employees and people in reintegration processes. Mixing both worlds allowed each side to understand how mutually important they are to eachother. EU experts on product policy, circular economy, social inclusion and financing of social enterprises saw their policies turned into action by way of direct contact, which in turn, is crucial to EU policymaking.
Kelly Piron, Communication and Advocacy Officer, email@example.com