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flag Spain - (Fundación Traperos de Emaús Navarra)

We are “ragpickers”, an old trade which provides us with our resources, which we have brought up to date with separate collection, preparation for reuse and recycling of waste objects and materials under agreements with 16 local authority associations in Navarre and different SCRAPS (management systems), which we then sell at our flea markets.

In our Preparation Centre for Reuse and Recycling, we collect, sort and process over 12,000 tons for reuse or recycling.

The centre spans 20,000m², divided into four main areas: TEXTILES, FURNITURE, WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment) and BOOKS & SMALL ITEMS.

This centre is an important part of the Circular Economy in Navarre and is recognised as part of the infrastructure of the Navarre Integrated Waste Plan (PIGRN).

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flag Spain - (Fundación Traperos de Emaús Navarra)


In the Emmaus Navarra ragpicking community we use the waste hierarchy as outlined in the European Directive and which prioritises, first and foremost, waste prevention.

Waste prevention is based around producing and consuming less and in a more responsible manner, faced with the capitalist model of buying, throwing away and buying again.

Since our early days, our community has, in addition to collecting second-hand objects and materials, always strived to raise awareness amongst the general public regarding waste prevention, responsible consumption, reuse and recycling.

Thus, as part of an agreement with the district of Pamplona, we have been leading various initiatives since 2015 to raise awareness on this topic amongst schoolchildren, other groups and amongst the general public.

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flag Spain - (Asociación Traperos de Emaús de la Región de Murcia)

In 2015, a social work student on placement suggested increasing our association’s second-hand book sales by creating a webpage to sell them online, promoting initiatives and agreements with other bodies in the Murcia region to make it easier to donate books and bring greater visibility to this project. Traperos de Emaús approved setting up this initiative to take advantage of the possibility of connecting more widely with the general public in the region, to increase sales and bring visibility in a friendly and simple way.

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flag France - (Emmaüs Var)

In 2016, the Emmaus Var community created a new workshop, La Fabrique, with the aim of showing off companions’ skills and creativity, and offering them training through upcycling donated furniture and objects.

How did this project come about and why?

The situation in the group:
- Companions with skills, knowledge and creativity;
- The success of traditional furniture created by Bob from recovered materials over 20 years of sales;
- Declining quality of furniture collected, too much furniture being scrapped;
- Public interest in hand-made objects from recovered materials and unique pieces.

We want to:
- offer training for companions;
- have a ‘window’ into our community and change certain attitudes towards Emmaus;
- provide a gateway to our association;
- be more visible on a local level.

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Recycling, collection and transformation of waste oil
flag Chile - (Urracas)

We live in an age where we generate lots of organic waste (discarded oil) that can be reused, and where Chile’s big cities are accumulating waste without any law to regulate it, polluting Mother Earth, in particular her waters.

From a position of wanting to protect Mother Earth, and an understanding that nature supports human life and that we cannot live without Mother Earth, but she would be able to live without humans, at Las Urracas we have started to look for ways to take responsibility for this situation.

In this regard, and given that domestic-use oil poured down drains and onto the ground seriously pollutes the environment, we set up this oil-recycling venture.

According to studies, we know that one litre of oil can pollute 1000 litres of water. (Countries that are leaders in oil recycling recycle over one litre per capita per year, whereas in Chile it is practically 0% litres.) Most of this oil is poured down the drain, (70% of obstructions in piping is linked to pouring away this used vegetable oil) onto the ground in our cities and into our sea, and both through the drains or through the groundwater, this oil ends its journey of pollution in the ocean.

While working as scrap collectors, we collect and recover domestic-use oils, filter them and take them to their final destination where they are converted into Biodiesel.

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flag France - (Emmaüs La friperie solidaire)

The Friperie Solidaire, a member of the Emmaus movement and organisation governed by the French law of 1901, is a certified social enterprise.

The organisation employs more than forty people a year to get them back into work. Every year, we reuse more than 350 tons of donated textiles.

Based on the assessment that the collected textile deposit was not being sufficiently exploited, a dressmaking and alterations project was set up five years ago at the Friperie Solidaire’s workshop. The customers’ general enthusiasm encouraged the organisation to register a textile brand name: Le Labo de l’Abbé (the Abbé’s lab).

Registered in late 2014 by Emmaüs La Friperie Solidaire, the brand name came about from the team’s desire to promote the talent of the social enterprise’s employees for the development of responsible and ethical fashion.

Ethical fashion
Bringing together creativity and Emmaus’s values of solidarity, diversity, dignity through work, offering an unconditional welcome, and sustainable development: that’s the challenge to which Emmaus La Friperie Solidaire has risen by setting up Le Labo de l’Abbé.

Le Labo de l’Abbé is an environmentally-responsible brand, selling clothing and accessories made in France using 100% recycled waste fabric. In this way, it offers consumers an alternative to standard, throw-away fashion. Each item is unique and is produced in very small quantities.

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Recycling Electric and Electronic Waste and Appliances
flag Uruguay - (Emaús Asociación Civil Nuevo Paris)

In our country, there is a large build-up of electric and electronic waste that is seriously harmful both for the environment and public health. There are no laws that regulate work with this waste.

Motivated by caring for the environment and also by wanting to become a self-sustaining group, we have made the decision to work with electric and electronic materials, adding a new income-generating sector to our traditional work with second hand goods.

While we have much experience in recycling, we must be trained to learn all about this new type of work and therefore set ourselves apart from other business that are involved in this sector.

Gaining knowledge will help with the management of the project, with the hope of increasing our economic resources which support social work and contribute to caring for the natural environment.

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flag Peru - (Comunidad Traperos Águilas de Emaús, Piurá)

From the outset, our community’s main work has involved recycling, which is a priority for two reasons; fundamentally because it helps to preserve the environment and also because it is our way of generating income.

Our country as a whole, and above all the most populous regions, faces serious problems with waste treatment. Piura is the most populous region after the capital city of Lima, and the volume of waste generated has grown alongside the rise in number of inhabitants. This has now become a real problem for the local authorities and general public; it is exacerbated by the fact that people do not have a culture of caring for the environment.

Therefore, our community firmly believes that environmental education is key to gradually addressing our country’s waste problem. Moreover, recycling is a way of directly addressing this problem, because it enables this material, which would have been sent to informal landfills or burnt on the municipal dump, to be reincorporated into a life cycle or recuperated for different uses.

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A second chance for objects, a second chance for people.
flag France - (Association Emmaüs Magny-Cours, Fondateur Abbé Pierre)

Four years ago, Jean-Luc Dieny, a professor from the Nevers Burgundy École Supérieure des Arts Appliqués (graduate school of applied arts, ESAAB), proposed to the then-manager, Loïc Le Goff, that they organise a system to alter objects to produce new items with the help of the companions.

This led to several exhibitions being organised:

- “Cher design, Chair’s design” (cherished design, chair design) in 2014. The Nevers ESAAB’s 20 students from the applied arts skills upgrade classes (MANAA) worked with the Emmaus companions from Nevers Magny-Cours. The programme included a reflection process on design in recycling, a dialogue between industrial and artisanal designers, an unlikely but very fruitful meeting with the greatest ragpickers in France, some original scenography and an exhibition linking eight partners. The exhibition is still running; it was relocated to the Maison de la Culture de Nevers Agglomération (“Nevers House of Culture”, MCNA) and then the big national Emmaus Paris Salon which takes place in June at Porte de Versailles.
- “Vélo-cité” (bike city) in 2015. After the previous year’s experience with the chair project, 19 applied arts students returned to share the expertise they acquired from their experience with the Emmaus companions to build imaginative bikes. Once again, the outcome was astounding and the Magny-Cours community retains fond memories of the endeavour. Jean-Luc Dieny, professor at the Alain Colas school, was able to guide the students, and through the bike project they broadened their horizons to consider an ethical approach involving sharing.

- “Jardins – Cabinets de curiosité” (gardens – cabinets of curiosity) in 2016. Those involved in the project focused on the concept of cabinets of curiosity, rooms full of marvels filled with a range of eclectic and unusual objects akin to the bric-a-brac so dear to Emmaus communities, where people come on treasure hunts in the hope of finding a sought-after rarity.

- « Funambules des jardins » (garden tightrope walkers) beginning of 2017. For several months, 19 students worked with the Emmaus companions to create ‘metaphoric scarecrows’. As sustainable development is becoming a real need, words such as ‘recycling branch’, ‘reinvention’, ‘rehabilitation’, and ‘reparation’ all hark to the future and recall political commitment in the noble sense of the term, against the notion of programmed obsolescence.

Climate change is becoming sufficiently concerning for everyone to start thinking about their transport, consumption and life choices. It is thus essential to enable students at the beginning of their studies to understand that contemporary design does not have to involve adding a new object to the never-ending list of things that surround them.

These poetic, engaging and surprising objects are thus increasingly the fruit of the students’ very personal reflection and their unbridled creativity, which stem from their thoughts on ergonomics, the value of use or the renewal of conventional shapes, including notions addressed in their studies.

The production of these unusual objects has also revealed the infinite possibilities offered by the maelstrom of items that can be found through collection activities. This is a revelation because, as is the essence of making art out of something run-of-the-mill, one is making the ordinary sacred. Hijacking these ordinary objects shows that beauty is everywhere, including in objects which do not seem special, and that simply showcasing them can create what Kant put at the heart of the aesthetic experience: pure beauty. Like Marcel Duchamp, we believe that we can find beauty in a seemingly ordinary object if we take it away from simply its functional value. We are even disrupting the concept of a work of art.

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Soda blasting furniture
flag France - (Association Emmaüs Grenoble Fondateur Abbé Pierre)

Fashion moves on and sometimes in our communities we find beautifully crafted furniture from the Henri II period that our clients have neglected.

At the same time there is a strong trend of customising furniture in our society.
Bearing this in mind we considered different opportunities for how to customise these pieces in an environmentally-friendly way.

Painting directly onto varnished furniture requires chemical paint and due to our environmental concerns we thought it important to use a biological paint which doesn't give off any harmful chemical particles (for the majority of apartments and houses the warm air inside is more polluted than the air outside due to the use of paint, glue, paint remover, etc.).

With this initiative we also wanted to train the companions in new trades.

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'Resilient': Re-insertion through Design.
flag France - (Emmaüs Alternatives)

Since 2014 Emmaus Alternatives has worked on promoting creativity with people on get back to work schemes thanks to sewing workshops. In these workshops they focus on adjustments, customisation and creation.

The 'Resilient' project is part of this dynamic - it involves both research and action and helps portray the value of both human beings and objects.

The project has been supported by Eugénie deLarivière, a designer of objects who specialises in teaching design, who shares Emmaus' vision of the future in terms of social aspects, solidarity, ecology and the job market. Emmaus Alternatives decided to formalise its creative ambitions and experiments in order to reach out to more people, and to do so using our own methodology and tools.

This new creative workshop uses 'think design' teaching methods with people on get back to work schemes to help them develop cross-disciplinary skills. The workshop helps encourage new ways of thinking, reacting, adapting and innovating as well as regaining self-confidence by recognising one's own qualities.

The workshop is linked to the association's income-generating activities - giving value to objects that would normally have been thrown away by making the design of these objects more attractive. These new designs will also help the association reach out to a new, wider client base.

At the same time the project helps us reach our environmental goals of reducing waste and raising awareness amongst the general public about collection, re-use and recycling.

The Goal of the Project

1. Regaining Self-confidence: a Pre-requisite for the Job Market

The psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Boris Cyrulnik invented the term 'resilience' which is about an individual's ability to overcome challenges. He explained in a conference about traumatic memories that "art is about transforming the horror of the human condition".

Creativity helps us to express our frustrations, to provide them with meaning and to make them into something new. Thus the obstacles we face in life are often what help us become more resilient.

The 'Resilient' project follows on from the sewing workshop mentioned above, it too helps portray the value of both human beings and objects. The re-insertion programme for this activity will be inspired by the teaching methods used in design schools - boosting creativity, independence and know-how and helping encourage new ways of thinking, reacting, adapting and innovating.

The initiative boosts projects that promote skills, helping people to rebuild relationships of trust and to regain self-confidence by recognising one's own qualities.

2. The Importance of Cross-disciplinary Skills for People on our Re-Insertion Schemes

Cross-disciplinary skills are strongly promoted as they are often pre-requisites for jobs and help people stay in work in the long term. Some people have all the technical skills required for their job but are not good at working as part of a team, or at being autonomous, or at communicating in the appropriate way with internal and external partners, etc. Such skills are essential for job-seekers and thus they are a key focus in our re-insertion schemes.

We try to offer a range of options on the schemes so that people can have the opportunity to develop the specific skills they require to get back into work. The 'Resilient' project is meant to be a powerful, innovative way of helping people to develop these skills.

3. The Goal of Reaching Zero Waste

Today people are producing more and more waste due to our rising rate of consumption and this has a negative impact on the environment, our health and the economy. It has an impact on all of us: consumers, producers, re-use structures, citizens, tax payers - all of us could and should fight for better waste management.

Upcycling is an innovative way of limiting the amount of waste we create. Upcycling is about re-using an object or material in a new way, transforming the item and adding value to it.

For Emmaus, one of the main stakeholders in re-use in France with its collecting and redistributing of second-hand objects, the objective is to get involved in this trend of upcycling as it is a trend that will continue to grow and that is in line with our values (redistribute, re-use, recycle).

4. The Lack of Environmental Awareness, Knowledge and Know-How

We have noted that both the people on our re-insertion schemes and our users lack awareness about environmental matters and do not have enough information to be stakeholders in the fight to protect the environment, to produce less waste and to better manage this waste.

5. The Need to Diversify our Commercial Opportunities

Selling on second-hand textiles, linen and shoes is still one of the sectors for 'Insertion through Economic Activity' which is fairly profitable but the economic model of insertion schemes as a whole is still quite stretched. The current low oil price reduces costs for producers of new clothes, penalising the second-hand sector. When stakeholders from the for-profit sector arrive in the market they sometimes use aggressive tactics to gain market share in the second-hand sector.

Thus we must continue to make our 'traditional' activity more efficient whilst trying to identify new activities which could be economically profitable as well as enriching and strengthening our efforts to help our staff members get back into the job market. That is the idea behind the 'Resilient' project.

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Teaching about Recycling
flag Brazil - (Emaús Igualdade no Brasil)

"Targeting the struggle for social and environmental justice the Emmaus Igualdade community created a project called 'Educare - Teaching about Recycling'. The objective of this project is to inform people about Emmaus' work in schools across the globe, and in Cachoeira Paulista in particular, in order to change mindsets, make the local people aware of the importance of recycling and to motivate them to become activists for change".

One of the main reasons behind the creation of this project was to answer the question: what will the future of Emmaus Igualdade be after 30 years of work in Cachoeira Paulista? This project was thus seen as an alternative that would guarantee the future of the Emmaus community, a group which welcomes people living on the streets and provides them with dignity as well as social, psychological and spiritual support. However it is the community's re-use of recycled materials which creates the resources necessary for its survival. Whilst trying to leave the local people with a long-lasting impression Emmaus Igualdade also seeks to raise awareness amongst young people, encouraging them to take part in this process, to seek social and environmental justice and to pass this bug on to their friends. The community welcomes direct support from young people as volunteers as well as support on a more intermittent basis.

In line with Emmaus' slogan to "serve first those who suffer most" this project informs young people, in a school setting, about the work done by the Emmaus community and promotes collective action. The idea is that, through education, everybody understands that both citizens and materials must go through a continuous process of recycling.

The goal of the school is that people learn about the work done in the Emmaus community and that teachers and pupils develop a project for socio-environmental education.

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Arts Workshops with the Companions.

The Emmaus Sainte Sabine community is also a transition house. This means that companions are able to take part in arts activity workshops three times a week in parallel with their daily bric-a-brac activities. Founded by a nurse, the goals were to help companions that came here with their rehabilitation into the community by offering them artistic workshops as a tool for their personal and creative development, which is necessary for a person’s complete rehabilitation.

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Tea Saloon.
flag France - (Association Emmaüs Toulouse Labarthe-sur-Lèze, Fondateur Abbé Pierre)

Cafés are a shared space and the idea of this project was to stregnthen the links between people doing civic service from Unis-Cité with people from Emmaus as well as customers and donors.

The café is a space to talk about our values, struggles and initatives whilst enjoying spending some time together. Showing that by re-using objects we can create pleasant, tasteful spaces for exchanges and meetings.

Showing that exchange and togetherness are important in our sales areas: taking the time to talk to one another is key. Tiffen, Julie, Marion and Vidura are the 'spring chickens’ of Emmaus Toulouse!

They are involved in various awareness-raising initiatives alongside the association MediaTerre and have been with us since October. This civic service group from Unis-Cité has helped us form new relationships. They firstly got involved in our sorting and sales activities and then the idea came to set up a social area at our Labarthe-sur-Lèze site.

Near the entrance to the sales area a few palettes, spare wood and imagination were all that was required to create a café, our tea 'Saloon'. Home-made cakes, organic juice and sustainable tea and coffee help make this a real place of exchange.

Tony, Paulo and Christian, companions in Labarthe-sur-Lèze, helped build this space using the materials collected by the community. The second life given to these objects is rather unique. Concerts, story-telling and social events are organised to bring people together to talk about Emmaus' work, with a cup or a plate of local produce in hand of course.

Inspired by Westerns with its wooden furniture this tea salon really does make you think of a saloon, if you don’t believe us come and see it for yourselves...

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Bois & Compagnie (‘Wood and Co’)
flag France - (Association Emmaüs Toulouse Labarthe-sur-Lèze, Fondateur Abbé Pierre)

The problem of poor housing today is overwhelming - 4 million people have no housing or are poorly housed according to a report by the Abbé Pierre Foundation and in total 12.1 million people are affected, to varying extents, by the housing crisis.

In a difficult economic context, where primary needs such as housing are not fulfilled, in Toulouse 'Wood and Co' collects leftover wood used for industrial purposes (palettes, crates, etc.), embellishes it and re-uses it as a raw material in our construction work. Thus 'Wood and Co' fights against precarity in an environmentally-friendly manner.

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flag Argentina - (Emaús Resistencia Asociación Civil)

Exclusion is present in our society, that is a fact, and exclusion is getting worse for working class women with little or no education and who must take care of their households and children.
Our initiative with working class women started with the building of a relationship with Emmaus Resistencia and this relationship was gradually transformed into permanent voluntary work which has been running for 3 years. The group is full of working class mothers who are the pillars of their households and who know how to recycle and reuse materials and objects that others have thrown away.

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flag Spain - (Emaús Fundación Social)

Given our concern about the way in which advertising banners and other similar materials were disposed of once they had been used, we asked the San Sebastián Environmental Council to donate these materials to us so that we could recycle them and turn them into fashion products and accessories. Not only did we therefore come up with an alternative way of properly managng waste, but we also offered a way of creating social and environmental value using our social enterprises.
The project was received very positively, and it managed to receive enough funding so that work on the project could begin and that the project could develop in a small workshop.

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A furniture “makeover” lab
flag Italy - (Associazione Trapeiros di Emmaus)

Several months ago we set up a furniture “transformation” lab in a building that confiscated from the mafia, which the Erba town hall has allowed us to use, free of charge.

Certain pieces of furniture that are collected through our normal removal activities are selected to be sent to this workshop. These items of furniture are difficult to sell due to their poor condition, or because they are unfashionable and not desirable.

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Recycling of building material and furniture
flag Åland Islands - (Emmaus Åland)

Recycling and re-use. Inclusion of persons who are in the risk of exclusion.

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Emmaus Recycling Café
flag Åland Islands - (Emmaus Åland)

Inclusion and empowerment of marginalized persons.

Reducing food waste.

The purpose of Emmaus Recycling Café is to create a flexible system to get the long-term unemployed in the labour market and to break or prevent exclusion.

The project aims at long-term unemployed people to get a job. The objective is reached through skills development, individual support and practical work. By participating in the project, the participants prepare for employment or education.

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Emmaus Soup Kitchen
flag Åland Islands - (Emmaus Åland)

The idea is to provide a space for social interaction.

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Integrating young people facing problems.
flag Romania - (Associatia Frères Europa)

Sadly, since 1989 and the fall of the Ceaușescu regime, Romania has been known for the poor quality of its orphanages and the high number of children living in such establishments. Today, young people who grew up in these orphanages are left to their own devices, without having received any form of schooling or education and having lived in terrible conditions. There a few social structures in place to help them and to facilitate their reintegration into Romanian society. Our association was set up to support young people who grew up in orphanages and who have been left helpless. That said, it rapidly expanded to also help young homeless people, victims of abuse or trafficking, and young people marginalised from society after years of living on the streets. Our community is located in Satu Mare in north-western Romania. We welcome 25 companions aged 18 to 30. When they arrive they are integrated into our community house, the Casa Mara, so that with time they can rebuild themselves and find their place in society.

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