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Perfectly Good: Austrian Start-up Gives Second Life to Waste

Markus Puhringer, Author, blogger and freelance journalist.

Feature 17 April 2019

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Consumer waste is a global issue. In Germany alone, nearly €7 billion1 in consumer goods are discarded every year—over one-third of which are entirely re-usable. While the problem is glaring, initiatives to address this issue are taking place, such as the Vienna-based start-up, Die Fairmittlerei, which collects these products and re-distributes them to NGOs for a good cause.

“In Austria, nearly 1,600 tons of […] products never make it to market every year; errors in labeling or slight damage to the packaging are enough to make these products unfit for sale…“

In Austria, nearly 1,600 tons2 of personal care, laundry, and cleaning products never make it to market every year. Errors in labeling or slight damage to the packaging are enough to make these products deemed unfit for sale. While donating these items directly from the manufacturer to charitable organizations is possible, it is often not done due to time constraints and high logistical costs.

Die Fairmittlerei bridges this very gap: by developing their own network of NGOs and industry partners, they collect, store and sell these goods at a discount to NGOs through an online webshop. By not having to dispose of the goods, manufacturers and businesses save money and increase their social commitments, while NGOs benefit from saving money on the products they need to operate. The environment is also relieved of unncecessary waste generation, making use of the resources and energy it took to manufacture the goods.

Michael K. Reiter, Founder of Die Fairmittlerei, was inspired by this concept after hearing of Innatura – a similar initiative in Germany:

“After five years working in marketing and sales, I was looking for new challenges. Some have too much while others have too little—why not close this gap?”

Until now, thanks to its 17 volunteers and one part-time employee, Die Fairmittlerei has saved close to 20 tons of consumer products, including detergents, softener, liquid soap, kitchen furniture, diapers, drinking glasses, and condoms. Close to thirty NGOs already order their products from Die Fairmittlerei, resulting in initial savings of €30,000. Imagine the potential impact if there were more employees and volunteers?

That’s exactly why founders Michael K. Reiter, Sabine Brunnmair, Manfred Hlina and Michael Gugenberger are working on scaling the project to have a greater impact on driving their commitment to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12 to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns: to achieve a more environmentally sound management of waste to minimize environmental impacts.

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