What to do with street furniture that has reached the end of their useful life? It’s a waste to just discard it. That’s why Stiels, a Dutch company, buys existing street furniture, pimps it and leases it back to the client, including maintenance and management.
We noticed that in many project plans for urban redesign of public space, the existing street furniture was assumed to be of no value to the client. At best this furniture is being recycled: a bench returns as pulverised concrete under the tarmac and the wood is shredded or burnt. This is the linear economy: Take, Make, Waste. Stiels wants to transform this process into a circular economy, where existing street furniture is no longer considered waste, but is reused in a high-quality way.
Stiels wants to give existing street furniture new life, so it can be used at the same level as before, preferably with added value. Of course this is being realised at lower costs than paying for new. In addition, the plan caters for a shift from ownership to use. In a multi-year maintenance contract with municipalities for instance, Stiels buys the existing street furniture from the current owner. This furniture is leased back to the client, including management, maintenance and a revitalisation plan.
An instant positive cash flow is thus generated for the municipality. Management, maintenance and revitalisation of existing street furniture are executed by people with difficulty accessing the labour market. These people get a good job at Stiels. The municipality benefits as people move from a subsidised social work project to a real job that matters. Finally, participation of citizens can be easily introduced into this pathway.
This solution offers municipalities and other managers of public space many benefits, such as: limitation of costs, outsourcing of work, environmental benefits, being an example etc. In short: an affordable, circular and social outdoor space!
How can you join?
We are still looking for more municipalities that want to organise a pilot with CSR Netherlands and us to close the loop of this cooperative model. The aim is to scale up these pilots.