French architect’s scheme saves building waste from skips

Nearly 75% of all waste comes from the construction industry, according to the government environment agency Ademe, a figure that architect Joanne Boachon is hoping to change

9 September 2021

Joanne Boachon's association 'Minéka' collects unwanted material from builders, checks it to make sure it can be reused, and sells it on at low prices Pic: Gorlov-KV / Shutterstock

An architect has come up with a way to reuse waste from the building industry that would otherwise end up in a rubbish dump.

Joanne Boachon, from Lyon, had the idea while writing her thesis for her final exams, after realising how much material was being thrown away.

Nearly 75% of all waste comes from the construction industry, according to the government environment agency Ademe.

In 2016, with the support of other architects, she set up Minéka, an association which collects unwanted material from builders, checks it to make sure it can be reused, and sells it on at low prices from a warehouse at Villeurbanne, north east of Lyon.

It is open to professionals, individuals or associations, but anyone wanting to purchase has to become a member of Minéka for insurance reasons first (€10 for private individuals and €50- €150, depending on the size of a business).

A website shows what is in stock, including timber, doors, windows, insulation, pipes, paint and roofing materials.

Products could come from the end of a building project, a renovation, demolition or an order error. When buildings are about to be demolished, the association goes in to see what can be reclaimed and actively looks for people who might want to reuse the material.

Minéka also provides a collection service for professionals. Between 2018 and 2020, it collected 93 tonnes, of which more than half was wood.

In 2020, Ms Boachon won third prize in the Fondation Yves Rocher Terre de Femmes Award, which recognises women’s efforts from across the globe to save the planet.

She says she wants to make people aware that building waste can often have a second life rather than ending up in a skip.

Her association also offers advice on how this can be done, including speaking at conferences and via training sessions and exhibitions.

For people who do not live in Lyon, the Minéka website gives details of similar schemes operating in other parts of France.

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