What do we do with items we don’t want/need anymore ?
Our society is already lead by mass consumption, but planned obsolescence brings us to buying more and more new products and throwing them out as soon as they do not work perfectly anymore – instead of repairing them.
Indeed, it has become more difficult to repair objects than to buy new ones: objects are more complex than ever, people do not have the necessary skills or tools to repair them, and most of the time it is very difficult to find replacement components.
It would be very difficult to make people stop buying things, but it is necessary to bring them solutions and help them “buy better”. There are already sharing or second-hand companies and collective initiatives, who reclaim used up objects and sell them to people in need (Les Petits Riens/Spullenhulp, RecyK, repair cafés, Usitoo…). But giving away and buying somehow belong to two separated worlds, and still many objects end up simply thrown out in landfills in developing countries, because it sometimes takes more specific skills and equipment to repair them. Yet, in Vilvoorde, and in the particular area of Broek, some companies are already active in the sector of recycling materials: NNOF (Nearly New Office Facilities), Umicore, Brussels Recycling Metals S.A. …
Moreover, such a project would be in the town’s interest of promoting Vilvoorde as a cutting-edge recycling city, giving it a more glamour, fashionable aspect.
Circular Centre / De-planned Obsolescence
Following the example of the Swedish town of Eskilstuna, which has just opened the first shopping mall entirely dedicated to repaired and upcycled products, the idea is to bring together the acts of donating, repairing and buying, to make repairing easier and accessible, and to make circular economy and sustainability self-evident in consumers’ minds. Working together with the currently existing companies, this all-in-one new centre would gather both a deposit station, repairing workshops and stores, in several fields : furniture, textile, bicycles, electronics, electrical appliances, lightning, decoration… The complex would gather local designers, artisans, mechanics and handymen into a meaningful, environmental and social mission, allowing people to participate in do-it-yourself workshops. These aspects will be inspired by some existing associations, such as Hackerspace Brussels, or Maks (Cultureghem).
The recycling centre would lean on the competences of some existing enterprises. For example, NNOF already recycles office furniture, papers, and equipments into new ones, but does not deal with housing furniture; but the centre would integrate workshops dedicated to home furniture. Brussels Recycling Metals is a firm specialized in bigger scale metal items, whereas Umicore recycles, in a more detailed way, metals coming from electronic devices and jewellery. Those two companies companies would deal with the remaining metallic pieces which could not be reused in the workshops. Such synergies will participate in fostering short cycles and economic chains based on proximity, via reusing materials coming from nearby areas. (In the same logic, some of the construction waste could even be used for building the complex itself…)
As for the other sectors (wood, plastic, textile), specific sorting and recycling workshops would be created inside the recycling shopping centre.
How to recycle materials