A growing number of communities across Europe are speeding up the shift to more resilient economies and supply chains, rethinking the way we create, use, and dispose of our everyday products. Here’s how.

The world’s resources are limited, but we are living as if they weren’t. Our current economic system is based on extracting raw materials from the Earth, creating products with a built-in life span and throwing them away to then buy new ones.

The good news is that more and more communities are fighting back, creating responsible business models to reduce Europe’s dependency on mining.

This is the story of Maakfabriek, a Belgian creative lab and community of upcyclers extracting precious resources from urban waste and giving products a second life.

For more information about Maakfabriek and how to set up your own community of upcyclers, contact: maakfabriek@blikfabriek.be

From destructive mining to a resilient economy

Going beyond recycling, the mission of communities like Maakfabriek is to add value to urban waste, sharing tools and ideas to give goods like discarded furniture and broken electronics a new life.

Known as urban mining, this practice is becoming increasingly popular in a society that’s running out of raw materials and strives to find a sustainable alternative to conventional, destructive mining.

From reducing the need for new materials and mining to avoiding waste and creating new jobs, urban mining also provides a glimpse of hope in Europe’s transition to a more resilient and inclusive economy.

When communities turn waste into resources, they break away from our ‘take-make-use-lose’ economic model and start redistributing materials locally in a fair and sustainable manner instead. This is a central element of people’s fight against the monopoly of precious resources by powerful mining companies and manufacturers.

In a world where most materials can be extracted from discarded products and used to create new goods, people and nature can thrive together.


To learn more about what civil society organisations are doing to push back against mining, get in touch with:

Diego Marin, Environmental Justice Assistant at the European Environmental Bureau, diego.marin@eeb.org

Nick Meynen, Senior Policy Officer Economic Transition at the European Environmental Bureau, nick.meynen@eeb.org

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