The whole story

This is the whole story of BENU REUSE

 

The problem

Many well-preserved second-hand items and used materials that are still too good to throw away, are usually still disposed and thrown away everyday.

Repair services are slowly being forgotten, because every new item can be delivered immediately. Even clothes with minor damage such as a small holes are no longer repaired. The supply in shops with supposedly low prices is endless. This drives the consumption of resources without ensuring a consistent reuse of these resources.

Municipal waste, i.e. residual waste, separately collected waste (glass, paper...) and hazardous waste (batteries, waste wood...) from households and small businesses averaged 610kg per person in Luxembourg in 2018. The EU average was 489kg per person in 2018.

In 2016, households had a share of 8.5% and construction a share of 36.5% of waste generation in the EU.

Source: Eurostat, Europäische Umweltagentur, Europäische Kommission 

One example among many : More than 7.1 million tonnes of furniture are disposed of every year in Germany alone. The mountain of waste wood weighs a total of 10.5 million tonnes per year. Of this, 10 million tonnes (95%) are burned. The rest is supplemented with a lot of new wood (20% waste wood : 80% new wood) to produce chipboard. This process consumes very large amounts of water and energy. Many chipboards also use questionable adhesives. All this leads to a poor ecological footprint. We refer to this overall process as wood recycling.

Another example : The construction industry is responsible for 50% of the world's waste, making it one of the largest waste producers in the world. Every year, millions of tonnes of usable building materials are thrown away in Germany. The majority is generated in demolition and dismantling projects, but also on construction sites for new buildings 10-15% of all materials are disposed of that are not used, e.g. due to over-ordering or incorrect planning. Only a fraction of these building materials are actually recycled and reused. Transport, recycling, disposal as well as the new production of the building materials that are missing as a result create unnecessary waste and a considerable CO2 footprint. As a result, the construction industry is responsible for 23% of global CO2 emissions.

On 29 July 2021, humanity has used up all the biological resources that the Earth can restore and thus sustainably provide within one year. Worldwide, humans consume so many resources that we would need 2.75 Earths to provide them sustainably. In Luxembourg, the figure is 7.9 Earths (making Luxembourg the world's runner-up in resource consumption behind Qatar), in Germany 3, France just under 3 and Belgium 3.8 (2019, www.footprintnetwork.org).

 

The vision of BENU REUSE

BENU REUSE primarily wants to help ensure that things, components, materials, objects, etc. that are already there are used for as long as possible ..... In doing so, we integrate studies and expert knowledge to filter the supply of used things. In fact, it makes sense, mainly from an ecological point of view, to take some things out of the market that probably still work and/or could still be used, because the damage they (potentially) cause to people and the environment would be too great compared to buying a new, improved product. We do not rely on emotions and good will here, but on sound studies and the experience and knowledge of experts. In case of doubt, we advise to continue using intact things as long as possible.

Building materials, used components intended for disposal, everyday objects and materials that are still in good condition are brokered via BENU REUSE and reused instead of being disposed of in the usual way. Suppliers and buyers find each other via a platform, a digital marketplace, to broker the used objects and materials. This makes it possible to

  • reuse everyday objects in good condition;
  • reassemble used building materials and components for the same purpose, initiate the creative reuse of used materials (while respecting possible risks) and leftover materials that have not yet been used.

By reusing used materials and everyday objects, raw materials, energy, emissions and waste are saved, less new production, less resource-intensive recycling and less landfill space are required. At the same time, it can help to raise awareness of more conscious consumer behaviour and waste avoidance.

With BENU REUSE, private individuals as well as administrations and companies are offered the opportunity,

  • ... to pass on things in good condition to places where they will be used again;
  • ... to find things in good condition and thus avoid having to buy new things;
  • ... to save costs ;
  • ... to act/economise sustainably ;
  • ... find out about more sustainable alternatives ;
  • ... get to know companies and organisations that are active in picking up and/or selling used, repaired and/or recycled items.

BENU REUSE is not only in line with the idea of protecting the environment, but also has a positive impact on the reusers' pockets, as the used items (except delivery fee) are given away for free. Our vision is a conscious approach to consumption and objects. How much more valuable will our possessions become if we can choose things more consciously with more knowledge and understand how these things continue to be profited from after we own them.

 

How did the idea of BENU REUSE come about?

A first pilot building BENU PROVISORIUM was built on the Place de la Frontière in Esch-sur-Alzette. Characteristics of this building, which opened at the end of 2018, are: ZeroWaste, CO2 neutral construction and a local grown natural insulation, more than 94% "waste" in construction, total absence of new building materials (bitumen, plaster, cement and mortar, silicone ...), only the screws are new ;).

We would like to highlight the pioneering spirit of the municipality of Esch-sur-Alzette, which not only made the site available to us, but has also generously supported the BENU project since the beginning. We thank the municipality for their great support!

Construction was done with dismantled materials from other building projects, demolition of houses, leftover stocks from companies, such as used building materials, metals and wood, used windows and doors, among others. Also interiors and facades were designed in upcycling from used objects and the most diverse waste......in addition to ZeroWaste also CO2 neutral construction and insulation from renewable raw material (Miscanthus).

Creativity, social cohesion, participation: Under the guidance of professional artists, more than 140 volunteers and interested people from the immediate vicinity, but also from further afield (as far as the Netherlands, where a group of young people came to work on the design project for a week), did handicrafts and designed. Even young people from a regional educational institution took part. In a month-long participatory project, a unique outdoor design was created that tells stories about social cohesion, documents the enormous resource consumption of industrialised countries and integrates memories of the participants (toy cars, trainers, records, plates from DenHaag, pendants of a well-known rock group and much more).

The first BENU shop opened its doors in the BENU PROVISORIUM on 1 December 2018. Here, mainly creations by BENU COUTURE are sold, which are designed and mass-produced on the first floor of the building in a studio with professional designers and tailors. These are exclusively UpCycling fashions made from fabrics obtained from clothes given to us by people in the region. 

During the collection of building materials for the construction of the pilot building BENU PROVISORIUM and within the framework of the preparatory work for BENU VILLAGE, the first ecovillage in the Greater Region, we were able to establish many contacts with companies, private individuals and organisations who gave us used materials for our projects.

Why do companies work with us?

Sure, they save on disposal costs. But since these are passed on to the customers, it is, according to our experience, mainly entrepreneurs who are concerned about consumption and the daily disposal of sometimes high-quality products and materials. They accept the extra effort of putting good material aside and making it available for further use. We thank them for this extra effort. To the committed companies and all the private individuals who make this effort. In addition, we have been approached with concrete needs: we need a few windows for a greenhouse in the garden, jars for homemade jam ...

Until then, we had worked through all the requests one by one, phoned, wrote and posted a lot. Due to the many positive experiences and with the awareness of what an important role reuse plays in a sustainable circular economy, the desire to expand the idea of REUSE matured at BENU. We did not want to keep the experiences to ourselves and only use them for our own projects. All interested parties should be given the opportunity to join in ...

Luxembourg is actively working on the establishment and expansion of swap exchanges/places, e.g. in the form of swap shops at the recycling centres ... We are not pioneers, but latecomers. In some cases, we are lagging behind European countries that successfully implemented such concepts many years ago. BENU wants to actively support. Catching up. BENU REUSE explicitly presents itself as an innovative complement to local waste prevention initiatives.

In order to realise the start of the project as quickly as possible, we asked around in search of a goal-oriented, pragmatic solution, and presented the project. We met with great interest at the André Losch Fondation. In the short term, we were given the possibilities to implement the project in its entirety:

  • the development of a new internet platform with a lot of background information,
  • the recruitment of two people, one of them looking for social stability,
  • the purchase of a delivery van, which will allow us to optimise routes and reduce the corresponding carbon footprint.

A huge thank you to the André Losch Fondation, for the unbureaucratic processing, for the courage and the pioneering spirit that allow us to make an active contribution to climate protection together with the population.

 

Why join BENU REUSE?

Anyone who wants to make a difference and not be content with nice but obviously insufficient steps to protect our planet should join.

My advantages as a provider: I give my objects and materials that are still in good condition the perspective of being used further. In addition, I can inform myself in easy-to-understand texts about what I should avoid in the future in order to reduce unnecessary and sometimes toxic waste or even avoid it altogether. What do I do with the waste I still produce? I can find an answer to this question on benureuse.lu. Once a buyer has been found for my donations, BENU takes care of the transport. Everything is free of charge for me. This saves me time, means I don't have to go to the recycling centre, avoids any disposal fees An active contribution to sustainability.

My advantages as a buyer: I am supported in my search for items and materials. I can find contacts with suppliers on benureuse.lu. I receive items and materials free of charge, I only contribute symbolically to the delivery costs. So the cost saving compared to buying new is considerable. Isn't it the case that many people feel comfortable disposing of things "correctly" in order to give them a supposed "recycling"?! But how many of us consciously and regularly look for products that contain these recyclables? As buyers of offered objects and materials, we avoid "re-" and/or downcycling (processing a product while reducing its quality) and thus make an important, active contribution to efficient sustainability.

Advantages for companies and public structures: I improve my sustainable image and do more justice to my responsibility in society and simply on earth. I also reduce my disposal costs.

 

BENU REUSE - A pilot project

BENU REUSE is not a simple platform, but rather an innovative and overdue pilot project in and for Luxembourg. We would be happy to expand the project beyond the territorial borders in a later phase. Moreover, we can well imagine transferring BENU REUSE into a larger structure as soon as it becomes available. Politically, BENU REUSE positions itself explicitly as an addition, as a complement to the current and announced initiatives and further developments based on the EU directives and the local waste law.

We are learning, we are developing. Participatively.

As a pilot project, BENU REUSE is in the testing phase and will be further developed on an ongoing basis. This includes adapting the underlying criteria to changing needs and new findings. We invite you to discuss with us and contribute further information. Help us to complete the available information, which is based on laws and recognised, independent studies!

 

REUSE - part of an overall strategy

reduce    reuse / repair / share    recycle

reduce: By rejecting/avoiding, you bring less waste into your home. Most rubbish can be avoided by simply rejecting superfluous items (e.g. unnecessary packaging and carrier bags). The less we consume, the less we have to produce and dispose of later.

reuse / repair / share: It is optimal if things are used for as long as possible. There are many ways to do this:
Passing on, sharing, exchanging, renting, repairing, buying second-hand. Reuse is also part of this. In UpCycling we change things by increasing their value, e.g. by producing new, modern and high-quality furniture from old, unfashionable furniture.

recycle: Everything that still accumulates in spite of rejecting, reducing and reusing/reusing that one wants to dispose of ends up in the residual waste  (landfill or incineration) or can partly be handed in at the Wertstoffhof ("recycling" centre). Most of the separated recyclables collected there are incinerated (incineration may be declared as "recycling" if energy is recovered in the process). Otherwise, they are down-cycled, i.e. reprocessed with a reduction in quality (this process is also declared as "recycling" without comment). Only a part is actually re-cycled in the narrow sense of the word.

Example plastic : 2% of the plastic collected worldwide is recycled, 7% is down-cycled and 91% ends up in landfills, in our fields and a large part in the sea.

In Luxembourg almost all residual waste is incinerated. In other countries, such as Portugal, Spain or Greece, more than half of the residual waste is landfilled.

Keyword ZERO WASTE: Zero Waste means "no rubbish and no waste". It is about reducing one's own waste and minimising unnecessary waste. The guiding principle followed is: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. In other words, reducing consumption and avoiding waste. Using things that are already there for longer, buying used things and giving away unused things. And only in third place is recycling. Recycling is important, but it always consumes energy and unfortunately doesn't work satisfactorily. (to the interview with Olga Witt, author of "A Life Without Waste") 

You can find out more about ZERO Waste at zero-waste.lu and zero-offal-letzebuerg.

 

REUSE and consumer behaviour

Our goal: Raising awareness for waste prevention and more conscious consumer behaviour. What do I really need? Does it have to be new? Can I repair, change and/or reuse something?

When buying new products, I also consider the future process: Is the product durable, repairable? Can the item be reused or recycled? At the end of the cycle, can it be disposed of in a sustainable, perhaps even harmless way? The decisive factors here are in particular the ingredients, the composition, the processing (for example, avoid composite materials, i.e. materials that are glued together (...) and thus can only be recycled with considerable effort or, as in most cases, not at all).

Sustainable consumer goods are durable, reusable, repairable, composed of separable ingredients that can be reused/reused, recycled or disposed of harmlessly (see the Cradle2Cradle principle). Social aspects are also essential, although almost always concealed: where and how was the object or material produced, where and how were the components contained in the product produced, do humane production, processing, transport and distribution conditions apply...?

Why does BENU REUSE also broker items that do not meet the criteria for sustainable consumer goods?

We have decided to define our criteria for the re-sale of used objects and materials as broadly as possible. By reusing items that are in good condition, we can avoid buying new products elsewhere, with the associated consumption of resources and energy.

However, items that cause damage to health or result in excessive environmental pollution (e.g. excessive energy consumption) are excluded (keyword energy poverty*). You can find the underlying criteria in the CRITERIA chapter on this website. Discuss with us! If you have additional studies, please contact us and become an active BENU REUSE Brain member.


(*) What is energy poverty?
"The UK is the only country in the EU to have defined energy poverty. There, households are considered to be in energy poverty if they would have to spend more than ten per cent of their income on the necessary energy costs to reach the heating standard as defined by the World Health Organisation and to meet other necessary energy needs (mainly electricity)." 

Feel-good factor

Yes, you may, no, you should feel good about joining in and helping to reduce resource waste and litter. Great!

Now, however, we at BENU also make the experience that people only participate in the drop-off, donate clothes to us, possibly then also offer nice things here on BENU REUSE, and then immediately follow their usual consumer behaviour. Let's be clear: we hardly change anything if we don't change our consumption behaviour (significantly).

Therefore: Participation is great! Changing your consumption behaviour accordingly, i.e. giving away what is good, reducing what is new, but promoting and asking for what is used (e.g. also here on BENU REUSE), repairing, exchanging, giving away ..., is really sustainable and a decisive contribution to sustainability. That's how we get ahead!

 

<span>BENU REUSE</span>  criteria

BENU REUSE criteria

Not all, but very many, used items can be passed on or searched for via BENU REUSE. Here you can find out which items are conveyed and which are excluded from conveyance.

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<span>REUSE</span> Service

REUSE Service

Many participate! Here you will find organizations, initiatives and companies that accept, pass on, repair or broker a wide variety of used items. Let yourself be surprised!

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Do you still have questions?

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