'Eco-ebay' gets royal seal of approval

A Belgian Prince is doing his bit for the environment by promoting a website designed to stimulate the market for recycled materials and the goods which are made from them.

Prince Laurent of Belgium

Prince Laurent of Belgium

His Royal Highness Prince Laurent of Belgium heads up a not-for-profit organisation not disimilar to the Prince's Trust in the UK, but rather than trying to combat social ills its focus is firmly on the environment.

As chairman for the Belgian institute IRGT, which promotes clean technologies, nature conservation and animal welfare, HRH Laurent is the high-profile face behind the scheme which matches buyers and sellers of recycled products.

Similar schemes have been established in pockets all over the world by grassroots organisations such as Freecycle (see related story) which promote reuse in an ad hoc way try by offering unwanted goods free of charge, to avoid them going to waste.

But the prince's scheme ups the ante by dramatically increasing the scale, trying to find outlets for wholesalers to trade their goods.

And rather than coming with the perhaps misplaced stigma of secondhand goods, those on offer on the site are hot of the production line, simply made with recycled materials.

"We can reduce the amount of waste going to landfill by stimulating a parallel market in recycled, economical and responsibly-made products," said at a waste management conference in Dublin this week.

"This is an idea whose time has come. I want to spread the news all over Europe, and I'm hoping the public sector will take the lead.

"By informing people in the public sector and industry how they can obtain products made from recovered material, we can help them to save energy, buy local products and prevent waste."

The Prince's Catalogue of Recycled Products already lists over 600 products in French and Dutch while an English language version has just gone live on the internet.

Contacts have also been made in France and Portugal in an effort to widen the net and make the website a truly continental resource.

Suppliers register the products they offer, including technical specifications - how much of the product is recovered etc - and prospective purchasers can search for what they want.

Products which do not conform to the specifications can be removed from the register.

Funding to set up the website came from Belgian's three regional governments.

Sam Bond



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