Reiss Salustro-Pilson and Nigel Van Wassenhove are two founders who believe that business should be a “force for good”, and “work and collaborate for the good of both humanity and nature by shaping our ecological impact”, and in that spirit the entrepreneurs have relaunched their online marketplace Enviromate, best described, possibly, as e-Bay for stuff that gets left on building sites.
Originally founded in 2015 as “an alternative to the linear economy of ‘take, make and dispose’”, the site has been revamped and is now on a mission to “recirculate, redistribute and reuse materials that would otherwise end up in the skip.”
Anyone can sign up to the platform, from DIY enthusiasts to professional tradesmen, and sell “anything from a few tins of paint to pallets of bricks, timber and roof tiles.”
There are currently two ways to sign up – Free, or Premium, with Premium members being granted access to exclusive partner discounts, unlimited image uploads and 3 free listing bumps every month.
Users can browse items either locally or nationally, watch items, and chat to other members; listing is straightforward – just take a snap of your unwanted paintbrushes or paving slabs, enter a description, and list.
If the item is not sold immediately, the Enviromate Ad Bump will give the listing a boost back to the top of the listings – and users can even issue “wanted” ads if they don’t see what they are hunting for.
The platform also provides special services for charities by connecting larger developers to good causes that could use their left-over materials; Enviromate Donate exists in a separate area on the site where charitable organisations can make specific requests for large scale developers to fulfil.
Enviromate say the construction and DIY sectors are “the biggest contributors to waste globally”, and that within the UK alone, they constitute 32% of all landfill sites. 420 million tonnes of materials are used by the sectors each year, which generates 120m tonnes of waste – over half of which is reusable.
Of that, 13% ends up “within the waste stream”, over half of which is reusable, Enviromate’s founders say.
“We have developed an innovative, vertical marketplace to help build the world of tomorrow. Harnessing and embracing the rise of both digital technology and sharing economy principles to help propel the growth of the circular economy”, says Salustro-Pilson;
“Where reusable material is kept out of the waste stream and value is not destroyed; instead, it’s preserved and also created, through the sharing and trading of under-utilised resources.”
Enviromate won the “Pioneer of the Year” award at the 2016 P.E.A Sustainability Awards, and recently took the Eco Entrepreneur of the Year Natwest Boost Award award at the Great British Entrepreneur awards – the team say that to date over 4,000 tonnes of material have been reused via the platform – enough to fill 4 Olympic swimming pools, and with a value of over £1 million.
Enviromate also say they have worked with over 20 charities and community projects across the country and having established the brand’s “ethos” of real positive and disruptive change firmly in the UK, are targeting overseas expansion, and are confident of delivering a tangible global impact.
The company have been entirely self-funded to date – impressive for a platform dubbed “The best online portal for the sharing of unwanted building materials”, by the judges at the PEA awards.
One potential fly in the ointment is the presence of sites such as Freecycle where people give things away for free – often, listing an item for as little as a few pounds generates limited results, whilst listing that same item as free drives a feeding frenzy of opportunistic bargain hunters.
Still, if that were entirely true then the likes of Alibaba or eBay would never have got off the ground. Enviromate has already demonstrated serious potential – more than enough to interest a few investors, perhaps – the firm could probably use the extra marketing spend, if nothing else.