Berlin promotes circular economy with city-managed secondhand store

29th September 2020 Sarah Wray

Berlin has opened its first city-run secondhand shop in a department store, and plans to launch more.

The move reflects the German capital’s goal to take the idea of re-using “mainstream” and aims to reach citizens where they already do their shopping.

The B-Wa(h)renhaus shop spans around 660 square metres, with additional event space, and will be open for six months on the third floor of the Karstadt department store. Secondhand merchants will sell high-quality used clothing, upcycled products, secondhand household items, furniture, phones, computers and more. Repair services and workshops will also be offered, as well as regular events.

“The aim is to anchor the re-use of used goods in urban society and to establish it permanently,” the city said in a statement.

The launch is part of the Senate Department for the Environment, Transport and Climate Protection’s Re-Use drive to promote re-using goods rather than throwing them away or always buying new, and is in line with the city’s 2020-2030 waste management plan, which focuses on waste prevention with a zero waste strategy.

Stores of the future

In the mid-term, the city plans to open up to four more permanent stores, either as standalone shops or within departments stores. Berlin says it wants to demonstrate the “warehouses of the future” which incorporate a shop, space for workshops and events, repair cafés, and restaurants which use ‘saved food’ that is past its best before date but still safe to eat. Talks are ongoing with several possible partners.

Dorothee Winden, a spokesperson for the City of Berlin, told Cities Today: “To support the reusing of well-preserved used goods is a win-win-situation: it reduces waste and it is environment and climate-friendly as it keeps products longer in use and benefits citizens that can buy goods for less money.”

The rent for the space at Karstadt department store is €4,600 (US$5,387) per month.

“As the different stands are run by partner organisations, there are no costs for staff on our side. The partner organisations who are selling well-preserved used goods are contributing to the costs depending on their financial [circumstances],” Winden said.

There is also a zero waste shop in Berlin which sells food, cosmetics, cleaning products and more – with no disposable packaging

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