By Peter McLaren-Kennedy • 11 March 2022 • 7:51
City repairs, resells and profits from items saved from landfill
Hamburg in Germany have come up with a novel way of keeping discarded household items out of landfill, settig up a business that repairs, resells and profits from items that the city’s waste collection teams rescue.
Considered by many to be “the IKEA” of second hand household goods, Stilbruch collects from private individuals and from the rubbish picked up on the waste collection routes. Items that could be repaired and resold are then cleaned up, restored and re-sold.
Such has been the success of the project that the city now has two enormous warehouses where you can but everything from teddy bears to furniture to electrical items.
Set up in 2001 by the waste department, the business now employs 70 people selling more than 400,000 items each year. Importantly for the city it also brings in a net profit of around 400,000 euros each year.
Roman Hottgenroth, Operations Manager at Stilbruch, told The Progress Network “These things are useful. They really aren’t rubbish.
“Used is the new sexy… We are trying to stop throwaway culture and wastefulness. There’s so much value in what we treat like trash.”
Hottgenroth continues saying that the quality of the craftsmanship and repairs is such that warranties of up to a year can even be provided on refurbished items like laptops.
The initiative has gone down well with residents who would prefer to have items repaired than replaced, however that service is not always available. It is also part of a wider movement across Europe that is seeing repair shops spring up all over, offering to repair most electronic items.
With more than 70 percent of Europeans wanting the “right to repair”, Stilbruch has been heralded by EU and German legislatures and think-tanks as a pioneering model that could be replicated by most municipalities.
Hottgenroth says that every town could replicate what they have done, small towns may not have the populations required to fill up a warehouse like Stilbruch, but they could employ local tradesman to repair for re-sale at weekly flea-markets.
As for the future German city that profits as it repairs and resells items saved from landfill, it is planning to open another large warehouse and to furnish public buses with mini-libraries.
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Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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