Unemployed becoming "heroes" thanks to start-up

Hamburg's Recyclehero bridging gaps with waste collection service
25 June 2019
Alessandro Cocco and Nadine Herbrich, Founders Social-Startup Recyclehero

The Hamburg-based start-up Recyclehero is paving the way for even more “heroes” after raising EUR 24,000 in a successful crowd funding campaign. The founders, Alessandro Cocco and Nadine Herbrich, are adding a social aspect to last mile solutions with their collection service for wastepaper, glass and returnable bottles. The start-up aims to give the unemployed and refugees access to the labour market albeit on a lower rung of the career ladder. “Pick-ups are done using cargo bikes. The money from the crowd funding campaign has allowed us to purchase more bikes and our ‘heroes’ can now cover all of Hamburg’s inner-city districts,” said Cocco.

Real heroes biking way to future

A hero is defined as “a person who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” Applied to the Recyclehero context, “heroes” have problems accessing the labour market, but are undaunted and seize any opportunity making them attractive to potential employers.

Networking through recycling

Recyclehero’s present customers include mainly restaurants, bars, cafés and a growing number of commercial enterprises and private households. The business model also creates opportunities for even closer contacts between “heroes” and customers. “Shared meals, garden parties or workshops allow our customers and ‘heroes’ to get to know each other in a relaxed atmosphere,” said Herbrich. The aim is to eventually seal social and cultural gaps and to create bridges to new jobs.

Co-working space lending support

Recyclehero launched last August and the start-up recently opened an office in the HK 100 co-working space. Initiated by Kravag-Logistik Versicherung AG, the new logistics co-working space provides access to infrastructure and offers diverse supporting events, pitch meetings, workshops and a personal mentor as part of a six-month programme. Those interested in joining the Recyclehero team do not have to have a perfect command of the German language and do not even have to be able to ride a bike as the company uses four-wheel cargo bikes. However, the company places great emphasis on motivation, reliability and punctuality. “As soon as we have created a solid basis, we wish to devote even more time to those who in need of more intense support,” Herbrich stressed.