A circular tour through Vienna

The role of social enterprise in a circular economy was a key theme throughout a major three-day event in Vienna which saw the launch of a new Austrian Circular Economy Stakeholder platform as well as ministerial discussions on Austria’s current and future waste prevention strategy. Local social enterprise initiatives were also awarded Vienna’s prestigious Environmental Prize.

Over 20 social enterprises representatives and entrepreneurs from 12 countries met in the Austrian capital within the framework of RREUSE’s triannual membership meetings, hosted by the Austrian re-use and repair network, RepaNet.

The Austrian Circular Economy Platform was launched on 21st March at an event attended by 200 participants and had further interest far exceeding the conference room’s capacity. RREUSE was delighted to have its members among the organisors and panellists including Antigone Dalamaga, RREUSE president (ECOREC, Greece) and Matthias Neitsch, Member of the Board of Directors (RepaNet, Austria).

Added to this success, on the same evening of the conference RepaNet was awarded the prestigious Environment Prize of Vienna for two out of four categories. One prize went to the BauKarussell project, in which social enterprises have developed a business model for re-use of building materials. The second prize went to the ‘Clean laundry’ project of R.U.S.Z Repair and Service Center which has been offering rental of durable, repair-friendly washing machines for households including maintenance.

During its General Assembly, RREUSE was delighted to welcome a new member to its network, the Helsinki Metropolitan Area Reuse Centre, Kierrätyskeskus. Kierrätyskeskus is a non-profit social enterprise with 7 re-use shops in Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa and represents over 400 people. In 2017 the re-use centres sold 2,7 million items and 1,4 million items were donated for free.

The Environment Ministry of Austria hosted the last day of RREUSE’s meeting where members heard first-hand about Austria’s approach to waste prevention, re-use and preparing for re-use also in the context on the upcoming Austrian presidency of the Council of the European Union starting in July 2018.

There were also opportunities to visit two key social enterprise re-use facilities. Carla Nord is a large re-use centre of Caritas Vienna and also a collection and sorting point for the national mobile phone collection ‘Ö3 Wundertüte’. DRZ Demontage and Recycling Centre is a re-use, sorting, dismantling and upcycling social enterprise dealing with waste electricals. The ‘Trash design’ workshop makes jewellery from ethernet cables, clocks from computer expansion boards or tables from old washing machine drums.

Last but not least the members stayed at the magdas hotel, which prioritises the employment of refugees. The hotel ambassador Gabriela Sonnleitner presented the story of the former retirement home now hotel with almost 100 rooms thanks to the mobilisation of a large number of volunteers. With help of designers the original furniture was upcycled and used in a creative way, making every room one of its kind. A recommended place to stay in Vienna!


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