Api’Up produces a series of new and designed furniture from waste and abandoned materials, collected in the territory, employing socially-fragile workers.
The GP was born with the aim to find a sustainable answer to the complex problem of waste production: the amount of waste generated increases every year; recycling centres and dump sites are overwhelmed; a great quantity of materials is still not resold in recycling centres and charities; the industry of textile and furniture are guided by fashion which causes the acceleration of the obsolescence of their production and a growing consumption. In this context, the Association Api’Up produces a series of new furniture from waste and abandoned materials which is collected in the territory thanks to several economic actors, following an upcycling logic. The material is collected in the local area, sorted and transformed to obtain wooden panels that are used to create a specifically designed collection of furniture, which adds value to the waste material used. Api’Up is also involved in social inclusion projects and advocates for the rehabilitation and apprenticeship of useful and traditional know-how (carpentry, sewing).The beginning of the association can be traced back to 2012, when the interest towards upcycling processes was born. After a feasibility study and the approval for social inclusion project, the first workshop “from waste to design” was held in 2014 and, from then on, the activity of Api’Up was stabilized. Nowadays the association works primarily with wood; however, it is performing several tests to use textiles and leather.
Api’Up were supported by: European funds, National funds, Region of Aquitaine Limousin Poitou-Charentes, Landes department, urban centers, Aquitaine Active and banks. Supports consisted in both public and private subventions reaching 130.000€ in 3 years.
Evidence of success
The project enabled the recruitment of 19 employees : 12 social work jobs, 1 administrative job and 6 permanent jobs.
In 2014, 66 tons of waste were collected. The following year, the number grew to 148 tons: half were treated towards a more environmentally responsible recycling and the other half were upcycled or reused. In 2015, customers who bought an upcycled product were 45% individuals and 55% companies.
Potential for learning or transfer
The GP proves to be interesting for two aspects, one is related to the products created and the other to the philosophy behind it.
Many other recycling and upcycling activities exist, however they consist mainly in reaggregation of different pieces of furniture to create new ones which outright declares its history and are targeted to a specific range of customers. Api’Up instead transforms old pieces of furniture to obtain again wooden panels from which new furnishings are created following a defined design style which reflects Api’Up values and can be appreciated by a larger number of people.
In addition to this, the willingness to create an activity that is closely connected to the local territory (both in terms of material used and networks established) and that involves social workers are added values.
Both elements can be interesting to be transferred to other regions as the issue addressed is very common in many areas.
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