On 20 February 2020, the 2LIFES partnership met in Brussels to discuss re-use initiatives from the public sector. Organised by RREUSE, this Workshop for Capacity-Building Building aimed to train and inform the partnership about the best re-use practices worldwide.

Focusing on current re-use practices in Belgium, Yannick d’Otreppe from Bruxelles Environnement, a public authority, detailed Brussels’ regional project “Be Circular” which pushes for re-use within the building and construction sector. He insisted on the need to give materials and products a second life to ensure resource-efficiency. Hinting at the growing need for behavioural change, Yannick d’Otreppe concluded, “Numerous tools promoting re-use exist and the circular transition is on its way. But we need to increase the offer of re-used materials to stimulate the demand”.

From an EU perspective, Jana Zurkova, from RREUSE and representing a related re-use Interreg project SURFACE, mentioned the pressing need for “strong relations between public authorities and social enterprises to ensure a prosperous social environment”. She provided the partnership with examples of best re-use practices from the RREUSE network in Austria, The Netherlands and the United States.

Complementing the discussion, Emmanuelle Romain, from RESSOURCES, highlighted a positive achievement in Belgium wherein the “Waste Valoriser” job – dealing with all incoming waste streams in a re-use centre – is now officially recognised by the regions of Wallonia and Brussels. 

On a more practical note, the 2LIFES partnership also visited the re-use centre of Belgian social enterprise Les Petits Riens, in Anderlecht. The site visit provided valuable insights into the main steps of a re-use centre such as pre-sorting, sorting, reallocating and selling donated items. The important link between economic, social and environmental dynamics was highlighted. Not only do Les Petits Riens collect 8,000 tonnes of unwanted goods a year in Belgium, but they also provide training and job opportunities for people distanced from the labour market and shelter for over 290 homeless people.

2LIFES will soon be conducting surveys as the partnership has been working on a psychosocial study to identify barriers to re-use and a situational analysis of re-use initiatives to identify uncovered needs and gaps to improve the situation in the various local territories.