In Berlin, these two non-profits fight to prevent waste

Posted on 17 September 2019.

Paint, tiles and packaging... Every year, materials in perfect condition finish in the garbage. So two Berlin non-profits decided to resell them.

"What other people call waste is a precious resource for us," say the two founders of Material Mafia.

In 2015, Germany produced 351.2 million metric tons of waste. Among them are materials and objects in perfect condition, sometimes thrown out without even having been used. An ecological aberration, because making these products in the first place uses raw materials and energy. To prevent these materials, which are wrongly considered as waste, from ending up in landfills, the Berlin non-profits Kunst-Stoffe and Material Mafia decided to give them a second life.
It all started in 2006, when Corinna Vosse founded Kunst-Stoffe in the district of Pankow. It was then the first recycling center for the reuse of waste materials in Germany. Since then, the non-profit has been emulated all over the country and new centers have popped up everywhere.
In 2011, Berliners Katja von Helldorff and Simone Kellerhoff created a social enterprise called Material Mafia. "What other people call waste is a precious resource for us," two founders of Material Mafia told the German daily newspaper Der Tagesspiegel.

Towards solidarity and re-use

Kunst-Stoffe and Material Mafia work on the same principle. Both organizations collect materials from DIY stores, craftspeople, companies, showrooms and private individuals. A large part of their stock is wood waste, cardboard rolls, paint, along with tiles, decorative materials and fabric.
Once recovered, these by-products are resold at low cost to artists, schools and leisure centers for young people. It’s a good way of combining the reuse of materials - one of the pillars of the circular economy - with solidarity and short circuits.
And to make the Berlin population aware of sustainable development and the need to minimize waste, Kunst-Stoffe and Material Mafia offer educational days that question our consumption of objects and the consequences on the climate. But they also organize artcycling workshops for children, teenagers and adults. Something that encourages their circular creativity.