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Eight enterprises trying to tamp down the trash

Smaller enterprises have found ways to reuse materials to cut down on waste.

Sweden’s IKEA is taking steps to reduce waste, allowing customers to rent rather than buy furniture, as part of a trial.

Big companies have come under fire in recent years over the enormous amount of waste they are responsible for and been accused of encouraging a throwaway culture to drive sales.

The trial is the retail giant’s latest show of support for the circular economy, which involves finding ways to reuse materials including minerals, metals and biomass—once they have served their initial purpose, rather than discarding them.

But a number of smaller enterprises have been doing it for a while. Here are seven:

* Green Baby: Based in Hong Kong, Green Baby collects, repairs and resells second-hand baby clothes, toys and accessories. It helps teenage and single mothers into work by employing them across the business.

* Retalhar: Working with companies across Brazil, this São Paulo-based social enterprise turns used uniforms into gifts, such as bags and blankets, hiring women from low-income households to make them.

* Ecopost: This Kenyan social enterprise collects waste plastic and turns it into sturdy plastic planks that can be used for fencing, road signs and outdoor furniture.

* Substation33: Based in Logan City, Australia, this social enterprise collects electronic waste and turns it into products with a social, environmental or educational purpose, such as electronic bikes, 3D printers and vertical garden monitoring systems.

* Elvis and Kresse: This British social enterprise makes luxury accessories, including bags, wallets and belts, out of reclaimed materials such as old firehoses, coffee sacks and parachute silk.

* Circle Economy: Operating as a cooperative this research and communications social enterprise, based in Amsterdam, campaigns to advance the circular economy.

* Boomerang Recycling: This Irish social enterprise collects used mattresses destined for landfill and strips them down, reusing and recycling the salvageable components, such as steel springs and polyester. 

This story was published with permission from Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking and slavery, property rights, social innovation, resilience and climate change. Visit to see more stories.

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