“Look at those cabinets, very nice style. And they are not damaged at all. I like them very much, if I had a place for them at home, I wouldn’t hesitate,” Pavel Marholt points out, acting a bit like a salesman praising the goods.
But he is an employee of the Otrokovice Technical Services, he is in charge of the collection yard and the newly created furniture bank. However, he does not want money from visitors. The principle is simple. People who want to get rid of unused furniture take it to a furniture bank instead of a container. And others can take what they like and furnish the living room with it, for example.
“The condition is that things are not damaged or broken in any way,” points out Marholt. If someone brought an unusable piece, it would end up in a nearby scrap yard.
The furniture bank is open three days a week and people come regularly. “They take tables, wardrobes and sofas. They are the most interested, but we don’t have that many of them here,” explains Marholt, according to whom a furniture bank can be a suitable opportunity for young people to arrange a new home at no cost. “If I were to get married again and start living, I would choose a lot of things here,” he laughs.
The Otrokovice furniture bank is unique within the region. It works based on the concept of a circular economy, which is supposed to help improve the quality of the environment and human life.
“This is further help for the city’s residents and prevention of waste with furniture that can be given a second life in some other household,” said Deputy Mayor Petr Ťopek.
So-called re-use points will also be created in the city at the beginning of next year. These will be cells at collection yards, where people will bring other unused items. It will rather be smaller objects such as shelves, mugs, plates, vases or paintings. Skis, strollers or car seats can also be stored in this way. “It’s already common in many cities today, and we see a number of advantages in it,” said mayor Hana Večerková.
Slavičín was a pioneer
Although such places are already appearing elsewhere in the Czech Republic, Otrokovice is rather an exception within the Zlín region. They became one of the pioneers in Slavičín, where they opened the Cirkula center last year. It was created from an unused coal warehouse, and people also come here for things that would otherwise end up in the trash. After a year of operation, it is already bearing results.
“We have decreased the volume of large-volume waste, the disposal of which costs the city a lot of money,” highlighted the mayor of Slavičín, Tomáš Chmela. “The circle also serves as a community center because it’s where the locals meet. And it’s such a big exhibition,” he calculates other advantages.
Slavičín has been dedicated to the concept of sustainability and energy self-sufficiency for a long time. He won a national award for the Cirkula project. “It feels like a natural thing to do relatively easily. I think it should work in every city, and I’m surprised that there are so few of these places yet,” said Chmela.
In Zlín, they planned the creation of a large re-use center in Louky, but due to financial constraints, it was not possible. Now the city is returning to the idea. “We are considering going the route of smaller re-use points within the collection yards,” said Deputy Mayor Vojtěch Volf.
According to him, this can be one of the means that will help the city with sorting and reducing the amount of waste. However, the regional city is also looking for other ways. “Starting in the new year, we plan to sort bulk waste. It is still being taken to the landfill, but it will be sorted in the future. We want to sell wood and boards to manufacturers and in this way return the material to circulation,” explained Volf.
The center for reusable waste is also planning Rožnov pod Radhoštěm, where they are looking for a suitable location. On the contrary, in Vsetín these plans remain only at the level of considerations. “Partially similar activities work naturally, without the intervention of the city. On a similar basis, there is, for example, a shop with used clothes,” said Vsetín deputy mayor Pavel Bartoň.