As part of our Good Practice Case collection, our re:gen-u partners highlighted initiatives in their countries that implement regenerative economic principles.
The Rediscovery Centre is a creative movement connecting people, ideas, and resources to support greener, low-carbon living. The Centre, based in Ballymun, Dublin operates a multi-faceted visitor centre and unique social enterprise that champions & highlights the actions required to achieve a circular economy. Publicly funded by the Irish government, Dublin City Council and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it brings together the skills and expertise of artists, scientists, designers, and craftspeople united in a common purpose of sustainability.
Located in a bespoke demonstration eco-facility, the Centre is part of a repurposed Boiler House. The building has been developed as a prototype ‘3D textbook’, the first of its kind in Europe. It demonstrates best practices in building design, construction and operation, and defines the building and environs as an educational tool to inspire, inform and lead positive behavioural change concerning resource management and efficiency. The Centre provides a range of educational and research programmes, a shop, a cafe, and four workshops: Rediscover Furniture, Rediscover Fashion, Rediscover Paint, and Rediscover Cycling. The workshops provide training and courses related to reuse, repair, resource efficiency & low carbon living, and utilising unwanted materials for new product development and design.
Also located in the Centre is Rediscover Fashion, which was first established in 2008 as a social enterprise to produce 100% redesigned and repurposed, clothing, accessories and homeware ranges. The programme creates training opportunities for the long-term unemployed and all revenue generated from its activities are reinvested in the enterprise. This programme highlights that an estimated 93% of all textile waste in Ireland is sent to landfill and it aims to counteract this by teaching members of the public repair and reuse skills through interactive workshops, demonstrations and talks. These products are then sold in the Centre’s Eco Store along with other sustainably designed brands. Rediscover Fashion has thus created a space where the circular fashion model can be brought to life through educational training, lectures and by developing innovative products that highlight circular design principles.
Another great initiative is the Rediscover Cycling programme. Rediscover Cycling is a social enterprise that has been putting life back into used bicycles since 2010. Bikes donated for reuse are collected from recycling centres where they are reconditioned to be sold in the Centre’s Eco Store. Rediscover Cycling is also one of five Irish social enterprises selected to run a pilot Community Services Programme (CSP) with Pobal (a social inclusion initiative). The pilot CSP focuses on the reconditioning of bicycles, exploring alternatives to the bike-to-work scheme, and improving training for bike mechanics. This allows the Centre to take on full-time trainee bike mechanics, increase the output of reconditioned bicycles, and partner with Rothar, a community bike shop to develop a new national bike mechanic training standard.
Policy and Research Activities
Aside from addressing the practical applications of circularity, the Rediscovery Centre provides research and policy guidance on circular strategies for local authorities, state agencies, and central government. The Centre’s translational research activities support national waste prevention and climate action policy and advocate for a more resilient and equitable society. For example, as part of Ireland’s 2020 National Waste Policy, the Centre contributed to the advisory group to the ‘Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy’, a stakeholder group from a range of different sectors that supports the government in preparing the new waste policy. This plan will guide future Irish policy on waste prevention and management. The Centre communicates policy developments and impacts in an accessible manner.
In essence, the Rediscovery Centre shines as a beacon of circular economy principles in action. Through its initiatives, it not only breathes new life into discarded materials but also empowers people with the skills vital for more sustainable living. Bridging the gap between policy advocacy and tangible implementation, the Centre inspires a greener, low-carbon future not only for Dublin but for all of Ireland.
Author: Breandán Goss