The sustainable approach of customised work company Ateljee

Right to work: customised work company Ateljee makes it happen

As a customised company, Ateljee vzw offers people opportunities on the labour market. The person is always central. The coaches provide support in work-related areas, but also in strengthening skills and competences. The coaches also help with other topics, such as housing applications. The ultimate goal? Promoting self-reliance and preparing people for the labour market again.

This focus on people is always accompanied by a sustainable approach. Ateljee vzw has four employment projects: several restaurants, the bicycle repair workshop, the digipoint and the Kringwinkels as the most well-known branch. Tom Wauters, director of general policy & support services, took us on a tour of Ateljee vzw, all the way to the central warehouse where Marisan’s products have been a fixture since 2008!

How did Ateljee vzw come into being?

“In 1987, our tailoring company was started from the ideology that everyone has a right to work. At the time, homeless men from a Ghent shelter were given a meaningful day’s work by collecting furniture, refurbishing it and giving it a new life. Pretty much the Kringwinkel avant la lettre. That combination of giving people opportunities on the labour market and commitment to sustainability is still our focus today. “Our work with recycling shops is obvious, but sustainability is also strongly woven into our other projects.”

In what ways is that reflected?

“We have a large bicycle repair workshop Trans-fair where our employees repair bicycles from organisations and schools as well as private individuals. This is how we make the most of sustainable mobility. We consciously choose bicycles and not, for example, electric scooters, which are much more difficult to tinker with. In addition, we always choose sustainable products, such as our chain oil.

In the restaurants, we cook healthy food and try to limit waste. For example, we ask those who takeaway to bring their own bowl. “The Kringwinkels reuse certain packaging or opt for a sustainable alternative.”

We have had a central warehouse since 2008 and Marisan has been our partner there from the very beginning. We used to need five suppliers for all the solutions we find at Marisan. That saved a lot of headaches! Moreover, the location is a great asset. “Merelbeke is a stone’s throw from Ghent, which keeps our ecological footprint limited.”

A 15-year partnership: that can count!

“Yes, even our partnerships are sustainable.” We are therefore very satisfied with the cooperation. As a professional partner, Marisan really thinks along with us about tailor-made solutions. Labels in a certain size, colour or print are never a problem. Marisan also provides us with solid materials to add price labels to textiles. “In the clear webshop, we can order everything smoothly.”

What does the future hold for Ateljee vzw?

Caring for people and the environment is really in the DNA of our bespoke company. Yet we like to keep challenging ourselves in that area, because too many people still fall out of the boat in our society. That is why we want to increase our social impact and set an example for companies in the mainstream economy. We look for work that matches the talents of our people and not the other way around.

We can also take further steps in terms of sustainability. We recently switched to organic cleaning products and installed additional solar panels. It is efforts like these that can make a big difference for future generations.

A great decision. Thanks Tom and good luck to all employees of Ateljee vzw. Here’s to many more inspiring years to come!

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