22 – 23 November, over 80 participants from 20 countries gathered in Nijmegen, Europe’s Green Capital 2018, to discuss the role of social enterprise in a circular economy.
The event, RREUSE’s 2nd international conference, tackled how to make re-use a natural and convenient choice for consumers and encourage public, private and social enterprises to collaborate closely in the field.
With the private sector getting increasingly interested in take-back, repair and renting systems, Tchibo delivered a pertinent presentation on their strategy aiming at extending lifetime of textiles, which also inspires customers to donate unwanted clothes to social enterprises federated under the label Fairwertung. The German retailer of coffee, textiles and other household products is also piloting a rental service for childrens’ clothes.
Diving deeper in the social dimension of re-use, the national network of social enterprises active in re-use and repair of electricals Envie France presented its new portfolio of activities refurbishing medical equipment, such as wheelchairs and medical beds. Envie Autonomie drew attention to this yet untapped activity with huge impact on cutting cost for people with mobility issues whilst at the same time preventing waste and creating local jobs.
Comments on European Commission efforts to support social enterprise, such as the European Investment Fund, were provided by Ann Branch from the Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, with whom RREUSE started a closer cooperation earlier in 2018. Ruben Dekker from Directorate General for Environment mentioned the work on analysing what could be done in specific product categories in order to prolong and improve their life-cycle. Cillian Lohan, from the EESC presented how the EU institutions aim at involving a wider audience in the talk on circular economy and sharing best practice via the European Circular Economy Stakeholder platform, of which RREUSE is a member.
Two sites visits gave participants hands-on experience of how local waste management facility of Dar NV cooperates with social enterprise Het Goed on the collection of re-usable goods. Partnerships like this are crucial to allows for goods to be re-used instead of being prematurely recycled or incinerated. Het Goed is one of the re-use centres in the Netherlands carrying the newly launched quality label 100% Kringloop.
The presence of many different social enterprises in the room also allowed for in-depth discussions important for the network including the definition of social enterprise, transposition of the new Waste Framework Directive and how to measure re-use activities.
The event took place in a refurbished factory used for many different purposes, furnished with second-hand and upcycled furniture and splendid atmosphere for our discussions. The city of Nijmegen is not only the Europe’s Green Capital 2018 but also part of the region awarded the title of best circular region in the Netherlands.
The 3rd RREUSE international conference will take place in Spain in late 2019. If you want to make sure you do not miss out, you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and sign up for our biannual newsletter.
RREUSE is grateful for the kind support of our local partners: