Nominated by: Evy Puelinckx, VZW Het Vindingrijk (author/social entrepreneur)
Johan Eggers is a person who significantly contributes to a low carbon society. He has innovative ideas and is hands on and has the talent to surround himself by young people that learn from his knowlegde and experience. He is one of the founders of Maakbaar Leuven, the movement that aims to tackle the increasing amount of waste from electrical and electronic equipment by scaling up citizen repair initiatives and using digital tools.
He demonstrates in both his personal life as his professional carreer a vision, a clear view of what the world needs and puts it to practice at the same time. He built his own house of roughly 70% recycled construction materials, one of the reasons why he appeared in the national TV-series of international climate awereness expert Jill Peeters ‘Wat houdt ons tegen?’ (translated: What’s holding us back?).
He was invited as a speaker and expert on circular economy and upcycling material at Plenum (B)XL, the national youth conference in the national and Flemish Parliament. More than 500 students discussed that day all aspects of the circular economy.
Johan Eggers, as chairman of REused, was the essential pivot in building this in Flanders unseen partnership between not so obvious partners and in doing so realising the start of Materialenbank Leuven, as part of the Horizon 2020 project ‘Pop-Machina’ of the European Union and Vlaanderen Circulair.
As founder and chairman of REused, he realised the interior design of Kringwinkel Landen Plus (2021), part of a national chain of secondhand stores, with 100% recycled materials, again in a unique collaboration with AST77-Architects, BC Materials and visual artist Jason van der Woude.
He organised the first upcycling festival in Leuven, TRASH deluxe (2014-2015). The festival presented an art exhibition of upcycled work by international highly acclaimed sculptural artist Marc Janssens and light sculptor Peter Snijder – awarded with the 2nd Lux Cathedra Price of the Glow Festival in Eindhoven (NL), upcycling workshops, an upcycling market including international acclaimed florist Moniek Vanden Berghe selling exclusively products made of recycled materials and the book launch ‘Upcycling. Design made of Trash’ by Evy Puelinckx, Lecturer Design and circular Economy at University of Antwerp.
In 2018 the production of construction waste materials in Belgium amounted to 22 million tonnes. Much of these disposed materials could easily be given a second life in the eyes of Johan Eggers. So he started looking out for partners, which resulted in the development and implementation of the Materialenbank Leuven, a market place of recycled construction materials for consumers.
Johan Eggers, as chairman of REused, was the essential pivot in building this in Flanders unseen partnership between not so obvious partners. Atelier Circuler exploits the market place. The city of Leuven allocates buildings for urban mining. Intermunicipal organisation EcoWerf sorts valuable wood at the local recycling park. And ViTeS, part of a national chain of recycling shops, employs people in a social economy project together with Wonen en Werken and RecupWood (in Limburg based supplier of recycled wood). Johan is the pivot in this story.
His strategic vision is his strength: he identifies constantly new opportunities to mine, stock, sell and reuse construction waste materials, and sees ways of engaging people in social economy in these projects. Materialenbank Leuven is also embedded in the Climate Action Plan of the city of Leuven in order to make Leuven climate neutral by 2030. This is made possible with the support of Horizon 2020 project ‘Pop-Machina’ of the European Union and Vlaanderen Circulair.
Johan Eggers was the first to suggest to the city council of Leuven to integrate circular principles in construction projects. This month Leuven announced an action plan Circular Construction.
Johan Eggers is passionate about developing innovative ideas, especially in the area of circular economy. With his background in technical design and manufacturing, teaching, coaching and his passion for all things recycled, his enthusiasm about recycling is simply contagious.
In 2013 he spoke for the first time about his idea of raising awareness about waste and how so many materials are considered to be waste, while in his eyes it represents just a lack of imagination. This meant the kickoff of REused, a new local non-profit organisation with focus on circular economy, of which Johan Eggers is the chairman.
Upcycling festival TRASH deluxe – with a high level upcycled art expo, upcycling market, workshops, repair café, Loved before Store – was the first of his kind in the region and a huge success. The festival was an eye opener on so many levels for all kinds of people.
REused curated the TRASH Trouvé exhibition with art made of recycled materials as part of the Leuven Climate Week and in collaboration with Leuven 2030 en STUK.
However, Johan wanted more than only inspiring others. He also wanted to motivate, actively engage and coach people to look in a different way at materials and objects. He coached volunteers, people with working disabilities, schools and social organisations and helped realise their interior design projects with upcycled materials.