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Definition of ‘junk’ needs to change

Left: Henry Bernard, Director Flourish NZ (Upcycling redundant goods) Right: Joe Youssef, National Director, All Heart NZ.
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The description of what is junk needs to change, says the founder of a trust which repurposes thousands of kilograms of redundant corporate equipment around New Zealand.

“We value things differently,” Joe Youssef (pictured above right) of the All Heart NZ Charitable Trust says.

“We’re finding corporate junk can be community treasure.”

He says what is junk to one sector of society is valuable to another. For example, businesses may no longer want office desks, however schools and marae can use them.

People living in Pacific Islands are converting unwanted office partitions into insulation, particularly after Cyclone Gita devastated Tonga earlier this year.

Joe founded the trust to “support non-profit community groups and the creation of community enterprise by providing corporates with a sustainability framework to dispose of their unwanted items”.

He overflows with stories and enthusiasm about the wider economic, environmental and social impact.

All Heart NZ will be two years old in October and has already repurposed 857,575 kg of unwanted corporate furnishings and IT equipment.

One hundred and forty-three loads have gone to 67 community groups from Dunedin to Kaitaia and everywhere in between, and to Tonga, Fiji and the Solomon Islands.

Joe has calculated that $2,459,774 has been saved or raised by community groups. Saved because they didn’t need to buy what they were given; and raised by selling the redirected items.

Broader economic impact

This $2.45 million doesn’t reveal the broader economic impact created through associated employment and growth, he says.

For example, a few weeks ago Northpower in Whangarei wanted to sustainably redirect office furniture.

Freight and Logistics workers on site at Northpower Whangarei, picking up office furniture for delivery to establish a new charity store.

He describes how 10 men loaded items ranging from pot plants to office chairs into freight trucks, which were driven to a new charity store. More workers unpacked then cleaned the items. The charity store employs people to sell this office furniture and customers benefit from cheaper goods.

The wider economic and social impact, I’m finding difficult to accurately measure.”

That same week, Rangitoto College in Auckland set up a new technology area using a corporate’s redundant desks, which would have gone to the tip. Recycled equipment also went to Albany Junior High School and a brain rehabilitation and injury trust in Papatoetoe.

Joe says corporate recycling can save community organisations funds, enabling them to utilise money for their “great” work; and save the environment because waste would have gone to landfill.

Papakura Marae benefited from a mobile 29m stage. The marae saved at least $2400 a year usually spent renting a stage. This again means the marae can put more money into its core purposes.

All Heart NZ National Director Joe Youssef (left) and Papakura Marae CEO Tony Kake during delivery of the new stage in Auckland.

“We’re doing this every week, all across Aotearoa.”

Providing a viable option

If not for All Heart NZ, businesses would have less choice and often send multiple truckloads to landfill.

“They have limited choices – it’s not like they want to.”

Many businesses in New Zealand are looking for sustainable ways to manage their waste, however options were very limited prior to All Heart NZ, he says.

How do you pick up a large desk? You can’t chuck it in the back of your car. How about 100 or 1000!”

Joe says All Heart NZ provides a national one-stop solution for redundant corporate items. These have included fences, office furniture, cleaning trolleys, cutlery, dishwashers, IT equipment, even a dry-suit.

A thumbs up for carpet tiles delivered to a South Auckland community group. These tiles were uplifted from the floor of a retail shop and will be put down in garages to help with overcrowded living situations.

Businesses pay the trust for sustainably relocating their unwanted corporate waste. He says they would pay to transport this to the tip, and it costs no more.

“We love our corporates as much as we love our community groups,” he says. “We support corporates to think sustainably and they respond very well to our solution.”

He tells another story about a transportable dance floor which needed to be sustainably redirected.

“I thought, ‘What are we going to do with this?’”

Through the All Heart NZ network of charities he discovered a Cook Island marae had just carried out renovations and was grieving its permanent dance floor’s removal. So, this marae now has a transportable dance floor.

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For more information:

To go to the All Heart NZ website click here

For our earlier story about All Heart NZ click here

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