European Green Capital Award Good Practices - Velenje - Transforming Waste to Worth
Velenje found a way to contribute to the circular economy through the Velenje Reuse Centre. This centre repairs, renews and sells second-hand items at favourable prices. By extending the lifespan of these items, reducing waste and maximizing resource efficiency the city actively contributes to the transition towards a circular economy. The Reuse Centre was established in 2012 and receives co-financing from the municipality of Velenje. Over the years, the centre has experienced significant growth, leading to the recent opening of a new location.
This good practice aligns with indicator 5: Waste and Circular Economy.
The primary objective of the reuse centre is to refurbish items that are still in good working condition and then resell them. These items include furniture, household appliances, ceramics, books, sports equipment, and more. Before the reuse centre was established, these items would end up in waste streams, destined for landfills. Hence, one of the main goals of the centre is to divert waste from landfills.
In addition to waste reduction, the Reuse Centre aims to promote the benefits of reusing items within the community and facilitate such opportunities. This involves creating awareness among consumers and addressing any prejudices related to buying second-hand items. Moreover, the centre also functions as a social enterprise by generating green jobs.
Description of the measure or plan
Households that no longer need certain items can deliver them to the waste collection centre. Alternatively, citizens can schedule a free-of-charge pickup service. The only condition is that the items are still usable and/or easily repairable. To determine an item’s value before pick-up, people can send in pictures beforehand. The collection centre also has a designated area where people can leave electronic devices that are still functional or require minor repairs. Additionally, the reuse centre operates a web shop for further convenience.
Upon receiving an item with potential value, the reuse centre inspects, cleans, and prepares it for sale. In some cases, items undergo a creative makeover, resulting in a completely new appearance thanks to the skills of the centre's employees. If an item appears to have historical value, the centre collaborates with the Velenje Museum for verification.
The primary challenges faced by the Velenje Reuse Centre were creating awareness about the centre among citizens and educating and motivating them to bring in useful items they no longer need. Another difficulty was attracting different customer segments to the centre, especially those who are less active or conscious about sustainable purchasing.
Velenje aspires to not only reach citizens seeking cheap items but also those who understand the importance of a circular economy and are willing to buy refurbished products at a higher price. To address these challenges, the municipality of Velenje prepared a promotional campaign within the framework of the European project to raise awareness of the importance of reuse.
Additionally, finding suitable personnel, particularly for organizing work in the centre and managing the shop, posed another challenge.
A significant benefit of this good practice is the reduction of waste. Since 2013,the Reuse Centre has prevented the disposal of 283,590 kilograms of waste by facilitating the reuse of items (see the table below). In 2021, the shop recorded a total of 4,225 purchases, with 13,000 items sold. Moreover, in 2022, the centre achieved sales revenue of 48,000 euros.
Feedback from the citizens on the reuse centre has been very positive, leading to positive word-of-mouth within the community. As a result, people from all over the region now visit Velenje specifically to explore the centre. This demonstrates the successful creation of awareness and a growing willingness among people to make more conscious shopping choices.
Another benefit is the creation of four green jobs for employees, made possible in part due to the co-financing by the municipality of Velenje.
Table 1 Data on the yearly weight in kg that is sold in the reuse centre.
Weight in kg
Learning points and recommendations
The success of the reuse center has exceeded expectations, with citizens readily using the opportunity to drop off or have old items picked up by the reuse center and purchasing reused items from the store. Therefore, the city of Velenje recommends other cities to implement similar practices.
It is essential to continuously promote the shop and maintain regular contact with the public through various media channels. By doing so, different target groups can be reached, and people will be reminded of the possibility to sell and buy at the shop.
To reach various types of citizens, it would be beneficial for the reuse centre to collaborate with relevant individuals or companies to raise awareness and better promote the centre. Additionally, leveraging promotional campaigns by the municipality could further aid in marketing the centre.