The Association Api’Up was established to address the complex problem of increasing waste generation. The focus of the activity of the association is the production of a series of new furniture from waste and abandoned materials which are collected following an upcycling logic. Upcycling is a process of reusing discarded objects or materials in such a way as to create a product of a higher quality or value than the original one. In addition, the association aims to raise awareness of sustainable consumption and production habits and complement and improve services for waste collection at local level.
The material is collected in the local area, sorted and transformed to obtain wooden panels that are used to create a specifically designed collection of furniture, which adds value to the waste material used. Api’Up is also involved in social inclusion projects and advocates for the preservation of local skills and traditional know-how in carpentry and sewing.
The activities of the association started in 2012, when an interest in upcycling started to emerge. After a feasibility study and the approval of a social inclusion project, the first workshop “from waste to design” was held in 2014. Nowadays the association works primarily with wood, but it is performing several tests to use textile and leather.
Financial support was received from European funds, national funds, Region of Aquitaine Limousin Poitou-Charentes, Landes department, urban centers, Aquitaine Active and banks. Supports consisted in both public and private funds reaching 130.000€ in 3 years. The project resulted in the creation of 19 jobs: 12 social work jobs, 1 administrative job and 6 permanent jobs. In 2014 66 tons of waste were collected and the following year, the number grew to 148 tons. Half of this waste was treated towards a more environmentally responsible recycling and the other half was upcycled or reused. In 2015, 45% of the customers who bought an upcycled product were individuals and 55% - companies.
The experience of Api’Up is interesting for two aspects: one is related to the products created and the other to the philosophy behind it. Many other recycling and upcycling activities exist; however, they consist mainly in reaggregation of different pieces of furniture to create new ones. Api’Up instead transforms old pieces of furniture to obtain again wooden panels from which new furniture is created following a defined design style. The style reflects Api’Up values and can be appreciated by a larger number of people.
In addition to this, the activities of Api’Up are closely connected to the local territory (both in terms of material used and networks established). Addressing social challenges by providing employment to vulnerable social groups is another important element of the approach. The experience of Api’Up could be an inspiring example for other regions and cities aiming to encourage reuse of waste and upcycling.
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