Author Archives: Daphne Rieder

The birth of RESTARTER from the SIFOR Poject

On the 31stof October, thOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAe European project SIFOR will officially come to an end. What is the heritage of this project aimed at exchanging waste management know-how between European regions?

Initiated by the Region of Emilia Romagna and coordinated by Associazione ORIUS, the project has given a fundamental contribution to the definition of a professional profile for re-use centre managers, termed the ‘valorizer’. The skills needed for this profile would further help run re-use operations on a professional basis and to organize innovative training systems aimed, in particular, at social co-operatives, following what is already in place in countries like France and Belgium. Key skills include the ability to identify the potential value of waste and to determine if anything of economic value could be made out of it.

The SIFOR project allowed for more concrete legal support for preparation for re-use activities in the Reggio Emilia Romagna region including:

  • More provisions within the Regional Waste Management Plan
  • A description of waste valorizer profile: This is a “broadband” managerial skill – planning and management of facilities/services for the collection, treatment, disposal of the product/waste – to ensure maximum adherence to the demands of the public and private labor market. However, in the future, the project would also be to implement the profiles of design/manufacturing, pointing to a circular economy where the same resources are used more than once through constant recycling.”

One of the unexpected yet very positive outcomes of the cooperation was the creation of the Italian brand RESTARTER. This is an initiative born out of visits by 11 Italian cooperatives to France, Belgium and Spain, and will be applied networks of cooperatives, both within Italy and beyond, in three key areas:

  • Textiles: One network will focus on textiles developed by social co-ops in the areas of Ferrara, Bologna and Modena. A first centre for textile collection and sorting is being opened and 12 staff have already been recruited, 50% of which are from disadvantaged categories. The target is to be able to treat some 2.000 tons per year.
  • WEEE: Concerning WEEE, a first trade agreement is under signature between the social network RECOSI from Ireland and RESTARTER. The agreement will allow for the recruitment of another 15 persons, most of whom with disadvantaged, to be trained in the field of treatment of electric and electronic waste and ICT equipment
  • FURNITURE: The final network will include those projects developed around the collection and refurbishment of bulky items and furniture in particular. At the moment the network is still in phase of conception since this area is one of the most difficult due to the very low economic value of this material at the moment. Currently, a re-use centre has been conceived with activities of upcycling, trash-design and 3D printing using components from various waste materials.

To make the business viable, RESTARTER will use the “social management” model adopted by ENVIE in France which is based on three specific tools.Finally, to form a social management able to support all of this, 3 French model management tools were adapted in order to act in an integrated way within the network, with common procedures for work and to be able to communicate to the public, with one network voice, a transparent social accounting.

The RESTARTER brand could not have developed without the help and coordination of all the main beneficiaries of the SIFOR project as a lot of thought and details had to be addressed. This included feasibility studies and testing by the University of Modena and Reggio Emiglia for example in effective sanitation for used clothing. This is a necessary condition required by Italian law to start re-use activities in this sector, despite operational protocols not being branched. According to our forecasts, once the process of reuse that we set speeds up, it will allow to recover between 20 and 25% of the volume of the waste collected today in these three sectors within our region

With the prospect of giving the widest possible dissemination in Europe, a video showing Sifor’s social, environmental and training best practices will be available via YouTube.

For further information contact: Barbara Bovelacci – Associazione ORIUS

+39 335 622 2219 –


SIFOR Dissemination Seminar in Brussels hosted by RREUSE

Pic 1 On September 29th, the partnership of SIFOR moved to Brussels for a dissemination seminar organised by RREUSE. The seminar was the occasion to show to a selected number of participants representing vocational training bodies, social enterprises, reuse centres and local authorities the purpose of the project and to understand better how training activities around the profile of waste manager and “valorizer” could be structured.

After a presentation of the RREUSE network given by the director Michal LEN, it was the turn of Mrs. Serenella Sandri from the leading partner Emilia Romagna to present to the Belgian audience the objectives of the projects and the expected results. She highlighted how Emilia Romagna after a period of almost two years is now trying to make a synthesis of what has been learned from the visits and talks in different countries so to be prepared for the integration of the professional profile of “valorizer” in the official vocational training programmes of the region.

Luca Galloni from UNIMORE updated on the recent findings of the research. If, as explained in Bucarest, textiles collection is a profitable and mature business, furniture collection and refurbishment can be viable only under specific circumstances. On the other hand WEEE viability much depends on how the operations are carried out and on the agreement with EPR schemes as well as their openness to cooperate with the social economy sector.

The seminar continued with three interventions from representatives of the Belgian social enterprise sector. Peggy Liekens from WEB Turnhout (Flanders) focused on a specially designed training aimed at the insertion of people with disadvantages in “up-cycling” different materials. With the help of designer and architects, trainees are instructed on how to get the maximum from different sort of materials so to re-create new products to be sold in interior design shops. Peggy showed pictures of the artistic creations made in the WEB atelier as well as of the shops where the items are sold.

Virginie d’Etienne from RESSOURCES (the Wallonian network of re-use social enterprises) talked about the efforts the network is undergoing to see the “valorizer” profile formally adopted by the regional vocational training system. At the moment the skills required for the profile have been clearly identified and now it is up to the FOREM (the competent body) to decide whether the training can be integrated in the formal regional system. Virginie explained as well the different levels of competences the training is addressing so to tailor it on the different professions that can be found in reuse centres, from managers to the workers responsible for the different operations.

Matthieu Bonaventure broPic 2ught another interesting experience from the field since he was responsible for the “manager of re-use centre” training course in Brabant. He explained why at some point he decided to stop the training due to the fact that there was little request at that time for people with such a profile. He had to focus more on the core business of what he was doing: managing the re-use centre “Ressourcerie de la Dyle”, which is a good example of cooperation between social enterprises and local authorities in the field of community waste management. He has nevertheless kept alive his cooperation with Ressources to develop the training in a more structured way.

Audrey Grandjean from AEF Europe illustrated how the Wallonian Government is turning the  vocational training system upside-down in light of the recent EC-VET initiative of the European Commission, allowing for the accumulation and transfer of credits gained by trainees through the recognition of learning outcomes in vocational education and training across Europe. To avoid having people to start a new training from scratch, they can bring the knowledge they have already acquired in previous courses so to avoid to get lessons in things they have already learned. The profiles are carefully selected in co-operation with the industry and with other social partners.

In representation of FOREM, the public bodies responsible for vocational training in Vallonia, Bérenger Dufromont gave a presentation on the “valorizer” training course organised in Mons. The course, which lasts for 5 weeks, is presently given mainly to staff working in the industry and who are responsible for energy and waste management within the firm. The target here is  companies working in specific industrial areas where synergies can be created to minimise the quantities of waste generated and increase the volume of material susceptible of being re-used and recycled. At the moment the FOREM is working together with Ressources on a training module which will be more focused on social entrepreneurs and which should see the light at the beginning of 2015 and be integrated in the formal regional training programmes.

SIFOR partners in Romania

pic 1  On 10th July 2014 the SIFOR project partnership gathered in Bucharest, for a dissemination seminar aimed at local stakeholders. The objective of the event was to present the initial project outcomes, the results of the research carried out by UNIMORE and the measures the Regione Emilia Romagna intend to put in place to formalise the profile of “valorizer”, a re-use centre manager.

Representatives from Social Enterprises were invited to the meeting in order to illustrate obstacles and opportunities of the re-use business in Romania.

After a presentation on the overall project’s objectives given by the project coordinator, Barbara Bovelacci from Associazione Orius, the floor was given to Mrs. Serenella Sandri, who is in charge of the Vocational Training programmes of the Italian region Emilia Romagna. Her intervention focused on existing qualifications on waste management and the need to adapt and complement them with a more tailored profile for jobs in the field of waste prevention and re-use. The work is still in progress and at, the moment, they have identified business processes related to the management system/service in the area of planning systems and construction materials.

Then it was the turnpic 2 of Luca Galloni from UNIMORE to present his survey on the “preparation for re-use” operations in textiles, WEEE and bulky items with a specific focus to the situation in Emilia Romagna. The research investigates why so little re-use and preparation for re-use activities are in place in such a well developed and industrialised region. The answer can be found principally in the lack of precise definitions for “End of Waste” criteria. One of the main findings of the study is that according to the cost/benefit analysis there is room for profitable business in textiles (collection, sorting and sales) while for bulky items there are not always sustainable margins and the WEEE is a more complex field which is still being analysed
Elisabeth Diaz from Trinijove, Spain highlighted the similarities between the Catalunian and Emilia Romagna vocational training qualification structure. Catalunia has recently reviewed some 700 profiles and integrated new skills and new elements in the training to adapt them to the local situation. Some 40% of the workforce in the region do not have specific certifications but, on the other hand, possesses the needed skills to perform the job. Authorities are presently working on how to certify these competences in one way or another. Trinijove is part of the process and will be helping the authorities to identify new areas where specific professional profiles can be created after a process covering qualification analysis, definition of competences, standardisation of processes and qualifications’ recognition.

The point of view of sociapic 3l enterprises was brought up by Raluca Ouriaghli,  one of the founding associate of Ateliere Fara Frontiere (AFF) a social firm specialized in the collection, refurbishment and recycling of ICT appliances. Besides, AFF has developed activities in the area of trash design (production of bags, wallets and other accessories from publicity banners) and other environmental services. Raluca gave an overview on AFF’s education projects and training activities tailored to people from disadvantaged groups. She explained how through the collection and refurbishment of computers, AFF is able to supply local communities and education centres with equipment which would be otherwise unaffordable.

Daniela Mihaita, from Pestalozzi Foundation, responsible for the project’s evaluation, talked about the overall Romanian situation regarding waste management and the transposition of the European Directives at national level. In particular she stressed the fact that the poor performance of the country in terms of selective collection leaves a lot of opportunities for social enterprises to complement what local authorities are doing especially at local and community level.

Social entrepreneurs in Strasbourg for WEEE management training

Innovative multidisciplinary model of training for entrepreneurs/managers/workers

Following visits to Belgian social enterprises working in the reuse sector, which provided a deeper insight into collection, reuse, recycling and sale of textiles and bulky items, a number of selected social entrepreneurs from Emilia Romagna headed to Strasbourg, France for a one week full immersion into WEEE treatment activities.

The training was organized in cooperation with ENVIE France, the biggest network of social enterprises in Europe active in WEEE treatment and one of the biggest members of RREUSE. ENVIE, which was created approximately 30 years ago, federates today about 60 reuse centers in France, all specialized in the collection, treatment, refurbishment and sale of electric and electronic appliances.

During their stay in Strasbourg participants received training on different phases of operations and also had the possibility to visit the sites of the workshops and retail outlets of ENVIE Strasbourg.

The training took place under the supervision of trainers sent from the headquarters of ENVIE in Paris. This experience gave the participants insights on the data management system put in place by ENVIE in order to organize more efficiently the information concerning employees in insertion and formation process. The system connects all the ENVIE organizations and is directly linked to the database of the French public administration in charge of employment.

Parallel to this training an institutional meeting between experts on vocational training took place. The meeting was attended by delegates from public vocational training institutions from France, Spain, Italy and Belgium. The meeting delivered an understanding of the different vocational education systems in the countries represented in the SIFOR project and the identification of steps that can be taken to implement educational tools in the reuse sector.


Italian social cooperative visits Belgian reuse business

Maximize reuse and recycling through innovative training model

In the week of 27th May, 15 social entrepreneurs from Italy paid a visit to a few selected benchmark reuse and recycling social enterprise in Belgium.

The week was organised within the framework of the activities foreseen by the SIFOR project with the aim to acquire a better understanding of the Belgian model for collection, reuse, recycling and sale of discarded goods.

The social enterprises visited by the Italian social entrepreneurs were the Kringwinkels in Flanders and Les Petits Riens in Brussels.

The training was conducted by technical operators of the social enterprises giving the visiting social entrepreneurs a holistic overview of the process. The training was coupled with interviews with social entrepreneurs carried out by experts from the University of Reggio Emilia and Modena, partners of the SIFOR project responsible for the scientific analysis.

The main insights gained during these visits were the understanding of the importance of a well-organised logistical management of the sorting operations of the collected material and the set up of a common trademark which enhances the recognition potential of the network and gives it a better visibility amongst citizens. In that respect the Kringwinkel trademark, developed by Komosie, the Flemish network of social enterprises working in reuse, provided the social entrepreneurs with a very good example of how to efficiently organize and promote different entities working in the same field. A further crucial lesson was the understanding of how to develop a quality marketing for the retail outlets.

An additional objective of the training week was to collect information in order to design a training methodology that can be used to train people wishing to work in the field of valorisation of discarded goods. In order to initiate the development of this methodology a meeting took place between experts of vocational training from the Emilia Romagna Region and the Communauté Française of Belgium. The meeting was organised with the scope to deepen the mutual understanding of the vocational training models in place in the two regions.