Trash to treasure: the social enterprises transforming recycling

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Convincing companies to buy back their own rubbish sounds like an unlikely business model – yet the Melbourne social enterprise Green Collect has found a way to make it work.

Companies in the city’s office towers pay Green Collect to take away hard-to-recycle waste. Green Collect then employs socially disadvantaged people to refashion it into something useful and then sells it back to the companies that threw it out. It’s a double whammy. As social enterprise expert Prof Jo Barraket says: “It doesn’t get much better than that.”

Social enterprises such as Green Collect exist to solve social, environmental, cultural or economic problems. They aim to be self-sustaining and at least 50% of their profits are ploughed back into their mission. “And that capacity of being able to find latent value is really a characteristic of all social enterprises,” says Barraket, director of the Centre for Social Impact Swinburne.

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