VerdraaidGoed! creates playful sustainable products out of (industrial) waste materials, produced by people with work disabilities.
The competition is only open to people between 18-34 years-old and resident in UK, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark or the Netherlands. Does this apply to you
Country of residence of entrepreneur
Tell us about your personal background. Why are you passionate about this issue? Making an idea a reality takes innovation, dedication and strong leadership. Do you have the necessary entrepreneurial skills to realize your vision?
Mankind gets more and more out of touch with nature. We created industrial systems that pollute the planet we live on, we create products that result into unusable waste and we see animals and nature as just another industry.
As tomorrow’s designer I do not want to play a role in this. I want to be part of the movement that reverses this trend; I want a more sustainable society. Sustainability in itself, however, is nothing. Sustainability should be a ‘verb’, it’s a way of living, a way of choosing. And I am the one who can choose. I can choose not to create rubish, but create eco-friendly products and avoid wastage. Sustainability is part of everything and I want it to play a dominant role in my life. I want to live a conscientious life myself and I would like to inspire others as well to choose for a more sustainable way of behaving and living.
Already during my studies I actively tried doing this, by founding the Delft Technical University(TU) "Sustainability Committee" for example. This committee – full of students I had motivated – looked for ‘unsustainabilities’ within the TU itself and helped the TU to overcome those. With this initiative I won the WNF sustainability Award, which included an entry ticket to the most untouched place on earth: Antarctica!
Furthermore, I also decided to start publishing Osiris Magazine, a magazine about all kinds of sustainability initiatives on and around the Delft TU. I was a board member of the Sustainability Platform of the Delft TU.
I was also assistant on the TiDo - Techniek in Duurzame ontwikkeling (Engeneering in Sustainable Development) annotation and co-organizer of the TiDo bootweek. I was the initiator and organizer of the 1st edition of the Delft Sustainability Event and I was the vice chairperson of the TU Delft Energy Club.
In the past I also gainded experience in the field of developing aid. It feels good to help others who are less fortunate and under educated, but I also see that it’s really difficult to decide what ‘helping’ really is.In my opinion spreading knowledge is the best thing you can do. Important however is to know the country and to understand the way people think and live, before you can trully contribute. My main conclusion is that good development aid is often very difficult because of the social difference between countries. The problems are too complex to address from behind your desk in The Netherlands, so I believe one should have lived in the country for a considerable number of yearperiod of time before being fully able to make meanigful contributions and add true value.
As a matter of fact, I live in the Netherlands for 26 years now and I think our country can use some ‘development aid’ as well. Especially in the field of showing respect and love to nature, animals and each other, improvements can be made. Therefore I would like to work on ‘development aid’ in my own country. I do this by means of VerdraaidGoed!, the company I founded.
About Your Organization
Netherlands, UT, Zeist
Country where this project is creating social impact
Netherlands, XX, The whole country
Is your organization a
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The Need: What problem are you trying to solve?
Each year - within the European Union - three billion tons of waste is being produced.... In the Netherlands alone this is 60 million tons each year. Greenhouse gas emissions and air-, water- and soil pollution are the result of this large amount of waste and its processing. This is detrimental to the environment and human health. Even the more responsible ways of processing waste, like recycling, still have a negative impact on the environmen as energy is needed for processing waste, and parts of waste will ultimatedly end up in the environment. Moreover, part of our waste is even exported to developing countries for processing, often under very polluting and unhealty conditions. Therefore VerdraaidGoed! takes on the battle against waste by reusing it through upcycling on a large scale!
The Solution: What is your solution? Be specific!
“It's not waste until you waste it!” VerdraaidGoed! likes to keep things simple and positive. Industrial waste is reused directly as raw material to make good products. The direct reuse of waste not only saves material, it also saves energy by avoiding recycling.
The products are based on available waste streams and the characteristics of these materials. So when designing a product, we let us get inspired by the shape and features of
the waste materials and make no or very limited adjustment. As a result, the energy needed for making the products is kept to a bare minimum. All products are manufactured at sheltered/social workshops in the Netherlands, where people with work disabilities get a chance to work and participate in society. Therefore, VerdraaidGoed! not only reduces waste, it also avoids the harmful effects of long distance transportation, provides work for a disadvantaged group within our community, and ensures all products are made under good working conditions.
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities
We always start with the question: “Which waste materials are available?” And then, “What can we create with it?” For the Tof-hee, a fun 5-in1 game set, we got inspired by different waste materials. Small aluminium arts with the size and shape of a coin, direct by-products of the manufacturing of truck components, would be great as checkers. Residual pieces of fabric from the furniture industry is used to make rollable game boards. And with laces from a warehouse, which were no longer used, we could button up the game board with the checkers in it so it looks like a toffee. A prototype is made and the Tof-hee's are manufactured by people at a Sheltered workshop. Instead of all these materials ending up in waste processing, we make these useful again by creating a product which people still can enjoy for many years! And moreover, stimulated greater Social Responsibility awarenss of those using our product!
The Marketplace: Who are your peers and competitors? Identify others also working to address the needs you are and what differentiates you from them. What challenges could these players pose to your success or growth?
VerdraaidGoed! as Social Entrepreneur is a "niche" player in the Netherlands in the area upcycling and the re-use of industrial material and resources, where creativity and exclusively working with social work places take centre stage. The "social" component and the "sustainability" element play a critical role throughout the value-chain, from acquiring the waste material, production, storage, logistics, sales & marketing to delivery
Select the stage that best applies to your business
Operating for less than a year
This Entry is about (Issues)
What is the social impact you have had to date and how you measure it?
Realistically speaking, it is early days to make claims on impact considering the fact that we only launched late 2011. However, initial evidence based on feedback from the many parties we have initiated things with and have worked with, looks very promising, underpinning the potential in terms of generating the aspired large scale social impact.
Also in terms of media attention, invitations for participation in various competions for young social entrepreneurs and in various seminars and conferences have also offered a useful early opportunity for a "reality"-check! Feedback and attention has been very positive and motivating, and have also give very valuable input in to working towards furture success...
What barriers might hinder the success of your business? How do you plan to overcome them?
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Economics crisis: in an effort of the government to reduce public spent, production capability/capacity of social workplaces is under presure, with potential shutdown of some of the social work places. One way to address this, is for us to set up lean & mean social workplace ourselves of with one of our partners, where we could offer those social workplaces - that are under threat - work for the same people on secondment-basis.
How does your model address financial, social, and environmental sustainability?
This long-term plan is still under development. The experience gained at the early stages of start-up is providing direct input into this plan. This was a trade off.... We took a consious decision to use the window of opportunity to make a timely launch against the backdrop of the worsening economic climate and call for practical and pragmatic sustainable action in a truly social fashion, rather than delaying this for the sake of completing our long-term plan.
In the meantinme it has also become clear that we need the short to medium term success to sustain long term finacial security.
Awareness & learning
How do you see social entrepreneurship contributing to the improvement of developing countries?
I think that 2-way learning is the most important thing. We should not think that the developing countries have the problems and the western countries have the answers. We all live on the same planet and we both face problems that we should solve by cooperating and learning from each other. We should share our knowledge and continuously look for ways to reinforce each other.
What aspects of your stay in Uganda as part of the competition do you think you will find most challenging and rewarding?
What I think is really interesting for me, is to see what kind of creative reuse ideas people in Uganda came up with. In developing countries reuse is much more common and you can find very inspiring examples there! I think I can learn a lot from them. I think I will bring inspiration and knowledge back home, that will stimulate the design of new VerdraaidGoed! products. On the other hand I hope to inspire the people over there that are still dumping there waste. You still see, that in developing countries a lot of waste ends up on the streets because there are no good waste treatment facilities. If I can show them the value of waste, they will hopefully be motivated to turn trash into treasure more and more.