Od.coop, Fundacja Splot Społeczny, is a youth-led cooperative on a mission to reduce waste in Warsaw. The multistakeholder waste management coop works with local communities to find better forms of waste management, recover renewable resources and promote the 6Rs: Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot.
“We hope for mass overproduction of goods to stop, replaced by a circular economy closed-loop system, local production and reproduction of things with minimal impact on the environment,” says od.coop. “We presume that local communities have enough resources, skills, and experience, to meet their common needs and aspirations; to create a healthier, happier and more secure society.”
The coop believes that "waste is not waste until you waste it", and therefore redefine garbage as a potential resource, around which they bring together local entrepreneurs, organisations, institutions and individuals to create and implement better sustainable solutions, such as repurposing and upcycling goods that would otherwise be thrown away. “A collective cross-sectoral engagement is a key to facing the enormous and urgent challenge of waste overproduction,” it adds.
Participation in the YRP has enabled od.coop to make progress around its mission in a number of key areas.
They were able to adapt an existing legal structure to host od.coop to reflect the cooperative values and principles. They also flattened the organisational structure, changed the composition of the board and changed the name to Foundation Kooperatywna.
Od.coop began renting a delivery car from one of its partners and collecting resources from the stakeholders on a daily basis, which are either passed on to organisations who need it or used by the coop. “Our network is emerging really fast, as we often use rescued materials to establish new urban partnerships,” says od.coop.
“We enhance dozens of grassroots local initiatives [through] greenings of common spaces, community workshops and neighbour plant exchanges. We regularly provide workshop materials to NGOs and local government units.”
In partnership with upcyclers from the local community, od.coop has completed a number upcycle projects, including a seasonal catering stand for a migrant coop, interior furnishing for a local pub and a patio design for community centre, all from rescued materials.
The work completed by od.coop has served to raise its profile, gaining it media attention and a rapidly increasing network.
On its journey, od.coop has faced numerous challenges and is working out processes around its governance and building the capacity of its core team, but is positive about the role coops have to play when it comes to waste.
“We consider cooperatives as one of the most powerful means of building a fair and prospering self empowered community,” it says. “We believe that a social and solidarity economy could contribute to a climate considered de-growth, community welfare and social equity.”