The city of Munich has taken its ambitious waste reduction strategy to the next level by developing an innovative reuse lab and shop concept.
What do you do with your used products? Have you heard of upscaling or repair cafés? The city of Munich, using a circular economy approach, works with citizens to support sustainable lifestyles and offers ways to be more environmentally and resource friendly in daily life. It enables citizens to take responsibility for living more sustainably and provides employment opportunities and educational and voluntary activities.
The Halle 2 second hand store stocks affordable used products that are collected at the 12 Munich recycling centres, Halle 2 extends the lifespan of useful everyday items such as electronic bicycles, devices, furniture, textiles and toys.
Halle 2 has become a hub for stakeholders of the city's sharing and circular economies. Here they can test new services, exchange knowledge, inspire citizens and try out new ideas to improve the processes involved in collecting, evaluating and selling used goods.
Halle 2 has been developed using a collaborative methodology, reaching out to the city's social organisations and changing the way people feel about buying second-hand with a store that's light, bright and well presented.
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Size and population development
Third largest city in Germany; population of 1,402,455 inhabitants (as of 2013)
Capital and largest city of the German state of Bavaria
Main industries / business
Center for business, finance, publishing, culture, innovation, education, and tourism in Germany
The city is governed by a mayor and a city council; Munich is also the seat to many national and international institutions such as the Bavarian State Parliament, the Federal Finance Court of Germany and the European Patent Office.
Munich is divided into 25 boroughs (Stadtbezirke)
Background and objectives
Munich has one of the best waste management systems in Europe, with kerb-side waste collections, almost 1000 banks for bottles, metals, plastics and used clothes and 12 recycling centres. Conscious that many things taken to these centres could be reused, in 2011 the city set up a prototype second-hand store. When the original location was to be demolished, a new vision was developed for a larger, better-equipped and more consumer-friendly store that would also act as a testbed for new ways to divert even more items away from waste and strengthen citizens' environmental awareness.
The new store, Halle 2, opened in October 2016 in a 1,400 square metre space that was once a shoe shop. The objective of Halle 2 is to be a hub not only in terms of reducing waste by reuse but also in terms of understanding all aspects of the circular economy and how to protect the climate and save energy.
The Munich Waste Management Cooperation (AWM), owned by the municipality has set up a multi-disciplinary working group of 15 people to deliver the project. Cooperation agreements have been established with local social enterprises that offer both the specialist expertise needed for the store's repair and reuse services and the employment and training opportunities key to the project's vision.
The project team also work with educational and community organisations to create activities that encourage people to be more environmentally aware and offer job opportunities and training at social enterprises for special target groups, including youth and long-term unemployed people.
From sustainability seminars to Saturday auctions, the store shows what the circular economy looks like in action and how good it feels to be part of it. At Halle 2 citizens can, for example, learn how to fix their own bike and enjoy a cup of coffee at a repair café or buy a bike repaired by a social enterprise that provides vocational training for the young unemployed. They can purchase electronic devices that have been repaired and security checked by specialist social companies. Alternatively, they might be inspired to get creative by examples of upcycled products or linger over exhibitions of art made from waste.
Financing and resources
The lead agency for the project is the city of Munich. The €1,000,000 budget for renovating and marketing the store came directly from the fee paid to AWM by every Munich household for collecting and managing their waste. AWM aims to increase the volume of re-sold items by 100% through information campaigns and stronger cooperation with local companies so that it can eventually cover the annual rent and staff costs of €900,000 through sales revenue. The city of Munich has forged strong partnerships with educational institutions, non-profits and voluntary organisations to ensure the project engages with all members of the community.
Results and impacts
Halle 2 is now firmly established as a strong brand in the city and as one of the best places for second-hand shopping and for social enterprises to make their activities more visible. Partnership agreements with 11 organisations (public and private) ensure further recruitment and training of more staff with confidence in its future revenue earnings.
In a recent survey conducted, customers gave Halle 2 a 90% rating for quality of goods and 98% for the store’s staff.
The team behind Halle have set ambitious targets for the next three years:
- grow monthly sales from €50,000 to €90,000
- grow monthly visitors from 3,200 to 6,00
- grow the number of items sold each month from 14,000 to 24,000
To ensure these goals are met the team plans to connect with more of the city’s non-profit businesses and launch a city wide waste avoidance campaign. Moving forward there are plans to introduce new services such as hiring hardware tools and equipment and to open a Halle 2 chain store in another district of the city.
Barriers and challenges
Using a second hand shop as a circular economy laboratory was one of the main challenges faced by the project. Many residents still perceive the circular economy as an abstract political concept without any implication for real life. This was reflected in the difficulty of coordinating the various usage concepts that stakeholders proposed at the planning stage, while at the same presenting an attractive offer to customers and users.
Tendering social entrepreneurs and implementing stable supply chain management was another difficulty the project faced. The recycling of items has become a profitable activity for Halle 2 and the AWM has subsequently developed contracts with partners involved in the project. This example demonstrates the added value of the circular economy model, where reusing, sharing and cooperating are opportunities for generating jobs and growth.
Lessons learned and transferability
Always be transparent
By presenting to people how the circular economy works, cities can succeed in bringing citizens on board the project. Halle 2 was used as a space for cultural and educational events, making people indirectly aware of the importance of circular economy.
Attract different society groups
The city of Munich endeavoured to attract and connect with different groups in the community to support the idea of waste prevention and waste reuse.
Don't be a competitor, cooperate with business
The city of Munich cooperated with existing groups, networks, non-profit organisations, school projects and social enterprises, rather than position themselves as a competitor, by offering space for showcasing their activities to gain extra visibility.
Make your project sustainable
The city of Munich established the Halle 2 project as a profit centre, seeking to make the project sustainable in the long term. A business model that creates revenue is essential to ensure the effectiveness of projects aiming to stimulate a circular economy model.