Supporting new business models fostering a radical shift to a circular economy

30th September 2020 | News

The Raw Materials and Circular Societies Prize winners drive the efficient implementation of the Circular Economy in Europe

The concept of a circular economy has recently gained traction in Europe as a positive, solutions-based perspective for achieving economic development within increasing environmental constraints. Different type of stakeholders, such as business, consumers, citizens and cities, are key in driving the transition to a greener and circular Europe. EIT RawMaterials teamed up with ICLEI, RREUSE and POP UP (Veolia) to find top innovators working on new business models that foster repairing, reuse, sharing and circular products, as an essential part of the circular economy. The joint call for the Raw Materials and Circular Societies Prize attracted 73 idea holders. Today, at the Raw Materials Summit 2020, we are happy to announce the top three teams receiving an award for driving a circular transition in cities and industries!

Making Innovation Happen

New business models fostering repair, reuse, sharing and circular products, are an essential part of the circular economy, specifically in European cities. On the one hand, most of the material- and energy throughput occurs in cities and on the other hand, innovative solutions can be rolled out best due to the inherent characteristics of the urban form (i.e. large availability of materials, high population density and urban consumption patterns).

Raw Materials and Circular Societies Prize is a part of the Raw Materials and Circular Societies Lighthouse. Moreover, in addition to the prize, the winners will receive support to access EIT RawMaterials entrepreneurship programmes.

Connecting sustainable and ethical source of goods with consumers

Thriftify takes the first place and a EUR 30 000 grant in the Raw Materials and Circular Societies Prize competition! The Circular Societies prize was a wonderful experience for the team. From preparing the pitch and application to meeting the judges, it allowed the team of talented entrepreneurs to progress their business case and improve communication.

“It is so important that we do more to recognise the importance of changing our economy to a circular one. Sustainability is becoming an essential factor in entrepreneurship, and we’re thrilled that such a prestigious institution has recognised our business model.”
Rónán Ó Dálaigh, Thriftify

Thriftify is a digital commerce platform that enables charity retailers, thrift stores and the secondhand market to sell their products online. The platform provides its users with powerful e-commerce software to value their items, list them for sale on multiple websites and manage fulfilment. For consumers, Thriftify delivers a one-stop-shop for sustainable fashion, books, games and much more. Thriftify’s mission is to connect the world’s most ethical and sustainable sources of used goods with consumers who care. The company is currently working with over 90% of the charity retail sector in Ireland and is now beginning to scale into the UK. To date, its primary focus has been on selling used fashion. The fashion industry accounts for 10% of all C02 emissions and Thriftify is aiming to play a substantial role in lowering that by facilitating the general public to buy used garments, instead of new.

Affordable and ecological tool library in Brussels

Congratulations to the Tournevie team on successfully finishing the competition with the second place and a EUR 20 000 prize for their circular materials-hub business model – Tourneville!

“We are delighted to be rewarded with the prize, above all among such ambitious initiatives. It will help our project to expand and make even more impact in our city and community. Aside from the funding, it is encouraging to get recognition from experts that our idea is going in the right direction.”
Jana Žůrková, Tournevie

By far, the most resource-efficient way to use tools is to offer people inexpensive access to professional power tools by sharing and repairing them in a community-based tool library, such as Tournevie. After five years in operation, the tool library proved to be a successful service with a lot of potential to expand. In the years ahead the aim is to improve, mainstream and scale up the library which will require additional income and a new business model – the circular materials hub Tourneville.

Tourneville will process and standardise reusable and waste materials from local sources, make them accessible to individuals and organisations and transform them into circular products for the private and public market. Tourneville is a double return on investment: It will create a revenue source to enable the tool library to grow dramatically, and valorise local materials that are currently not used and hard to come by.

Social urban mining concept

“The Raw Materials and Circular Societies Prize raises awareness that small start-ups play an essential role to realize the circular economy. Being awarded shows, that other experts confirm our idea.”
Markus Meissner, Pulswerk

Pulswerk supports companies and organisations to make a step forward in sustainable development. Together with its partners, Pulswerk develops and tests innovative approaches to increase resource efficiency and reduce environmental impacts, as well as upcoming regional reuse networks in Austria. Since 2016 and together with RepaNet and Romm ZT, pulswerk develops the concept of Social Urban Mining and BauKarussell to strengthen circular economy in the dismantling sector.

Markus and the Pulswerk team were awarded the third place and EUR 10 000 for their project BauKarussell. BauKarussell provides recycling-oriented dismantling with a particular focus on reuse for large-volume properties, enabling new regulations to be met. In cooperation with large property developers, the team plans the process to define services based on the values of the object. The team dismantles reusable components to be made available for reuse. Workers from social enterprises carry out operational work.

Congratulations to the BauKarussell team on winning the third place and EUR 10 000 with the social urban mining concept in the Raw Materials and Circular Societies Prize competition!

“To let our small market grow, we invite project developers to realise Social Urban Mining for their projects. We integrate local social enterprises for operational work. Therefore, we create employment for people and raise eco-efficiency. A step forward to the circular economy!”
Markus Meissner, Pulswerk