Work Together (Archive)

Resource, the Australian cooperative which recycles (almost) everything and creates decent jobs

25 July 2016

The Australian cooperative, Resource, which is located in Tasmania, has managed to turn need into a virtue. This is what we call “social innovation” today, but this cooperative has been doing it for two decades. It is engaged in all sorts of recycling. It recycles 90% of materials salvaged from demolished buildings and it has a strong focus on job creation in a region where such opportunities are rare. It has become a point of reference in the area of recycling and this summer it is intending to pass on its knowledge to children.

The summer holidays will soon be upon us and the Australian cooperative, Resource, has found a way to teach children the art of recycling. “Reuse garden”, “Masks and costumes” and “Junk instruments” are just a few of the themes of the workshops being organised by the cooperative. But it is not just a question of recycling in order to create an object. Through their workshops, guided tours, their “Art from trash” exhibition and their other activities, the cooperative’s aim is to show that it is possible to live differently and that everything can have a new life, even a washbasin from the 1970s or used electricity cable!

The cooperative, which is located to the south of Hobart in Tasmania, has been around for two decades. It has the status of an independent not-for-profit cooperative. On its website it explains that, “we are self-financing and almost all of the money which is left over once we have paid our expenses (wages, rent, insurance, etc.) is re-invested in the creation of resources for our cooperative work in order to establish a dynamic and sustainable organisation. The most important thing is that the surplus is used to create more jobs. The work we do is sustainable, ethical and rewarding and our organisation is jointly managed by all of the members. We are proud of being able to create new jobs in a state which, traditionally, is lacking in job opportunities. Some of our surplus is also invested in our infrastructures in order to improve our facilities and the storage space in our shop”.

Resource plays an active role in the community of Hobart, but it also donates part of its annual profits to an overseas development project. The cooperative adds that, “we have also donated several of the most astonishing, rare and culturally important findings to organisations such as the Maritime Museum, the Transport Museum and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, amongst others”.

From total deconstruction to total construction

One of the most important services they provide is deconstruction…. “This is a sustainable alternative to the demolition of a building”, explains the team, which has received awards for its work and innovation. “We are able to salvage around 90% of materials from buildings, minimizing waste to landfill. We are also happy to work with clients who wish to integrate recycled materials in their construction projects”.

And if the materials are not used in construction they can always become art. This is something which the cooperative demonstrated very clearly in their latest Art from Trash event, which is part of a series of exhibitions which have been promoting recycling since 1993. This year, the cooperative chose to present Trashion, a new initiative which set out to encourage people to think creatively about their clothes, where their clothes come from and the people who made them. The aim was to use clothes which had been discarded and other materials to make an article of clothing and then to exhibit these creations during a fashion parade called Trashion.

The cooperative also provides a range of services alongside the workshops and specific courses, Their shop contains products which have been recycled, as well as others which can be recycled. Some of them have been collected directly by the cooperative’s free collection service which operates in the Hobart area, whilst others are brought into the shop by people who donate them.