Look back at 2021 from upcycling perspective


January 05, 2022

Another year has passed at Deko Eko, full of new challenges and projects that were our contribution to creating more circular world.


Gaining funds for further development

We entered 2021 in the exceptionally difficult circumstances of an ongoing, global pandemia, when companies operated within reduced budgets for CSR and environmental activities.
Despite the huge challenges related to maintaining the continuity of upcycling projects carried out in 2020, we managed to obtain an investment of around 200,000 Euro from the Austrian network of business angels, Danube Angels for further development of our platform.
The crowdfunding campaign conducted by Danube Angels was a huge success, and Deko Eko gained fantastic partners for the development and expansion in the DACHE markets.


New business model 

The development of our business in 2021 was also influenced by another, next to Danube Angels, partner - a leading provider of renewable solutions in packaging, biomaterials, wooden constructions and paper, Stora Enso.
As one of six carefully selected start-ups from around the world, we have been qualified for the Stora Enso acceleration program. The result of the 3-month accelaration was the development of a new business model based on large-scale projects, carried out in cooperation with huge retail chains. As part of the new model, we plan to systematically introduce upcycling products to the retailers' offer. We have prepared a catalogue for the retail industry with proposals for ecological products from categories such as home & decor, garden or fashion.
We are already negotiating with one of the chains on the regular sale of pots and buckets made of a difficult to recycle mix of waste foil generated in its stores.
Our goal is to introduce these products for regular sale in the second quarter of 2022.

New upcycling projects and technologies 

In 2021, we have been working on refining the technologies and production processes and finding upcycling partners for turning back to the loop various types of waste, like coffee grounds or plastic, on a much larger scale, moving away from the projects that were based mainly on marketing activities of companies.

  • For example, the result of a project carried out for the Żabka retail chain was the creation of a collection of upcycling cups, made of coffee grounds generated in its stores. This project was the basis for starting talks with one of the restaurant chains in Poland about the introduction of this type of cups on a larger scale in 2022.

  • We also dealt with solutions for the management of various types of office waste, including non-standard, such as carpets, from the Nationale-Nederlanden offices. This uncommon waste, in cooperation with several different partners from the Netherlands, has gained a second life in the form of a new material for sewing of practical bags.                                                                                                                                                     

  • We also operated in the area of ​​textile upcycling, observing the increased interest of companies in the processing of used workwear. At the request of the Miles Promocean agency from Germany, we have sewed the outdated work shirts of employees of a large German retail chain into shopping bags. In turn, for the T-Mobile brand, we have designed an upcycling collection of bags and clothes, intended for sale in the branded online store Magenta Shop in Austria and Germany.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

  • We were also engaged in social projects - for one of the global cosmetic companies that was looking for inspiration for a campaign in the spirit of a circular economy, we prepared the concept of city hives and feeders, for which the main material is post-consumer waste - used shampoo bottles. Hives and feeders will be installed in selected parks in Poland in spring 2022.


The new role of the marketplace

In 2021, we worked on finding the so-called product - market fit for the online platform Dekoeko.com. We have established  cooperation with a recognized marketpace expert - Łukasz Faciejew, who previously developed, among others, platforms such as niania.pl from the Pomocni.pl group. Together, we were looking for the development paths of our first  platform in Europe connecting companies interested in managing their waste with upcycling designers. We will present the results of this analytical and strategic work soon.

Despite the focus on conceptual work, the activity on our marketplace did not stop. Together with ERGO Hestia, we have launched the first partner e-shop, containing a unique collection of products prepared from recycled materials and the company waste. The products in the store are available for open sale, and ERGO Hestia employees and business partners can take advantage of special discounts. In addition, part of the income from sales will be transfered to charity organizations and NGOs.

We have also prepared new accounts for upcycling designers. They have gained a refreshed layout and functionalities enabling cooperation with business and are currently being tested by selected designers from the Deko Eko community.


Companies are discovering the potential of waste

We are pleased to observe the growing awareness of companies about the circular economy. After a period of pandemic shock, they are returning to ongoing projects in the area of ​​sustainable development.
Technology is also entering the circular world, which is reflected in the development of green-tech platforms. During a webinar on the occasion of Circular Week (a series of events around the idea of ​​circular economy), together with representatives of these platforms, we wondered how we can use technology to reduce the amount of generated waste.


PR News

  • The year began with an award from the My Company Polska monthly, which placed Agata Frankiewicz, founder and CEO of Deko Eko in the Startupers 2021 / New generation of Polish women ranking.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
  • In February, Agata Frankiewicz was a speaker at an international webinar organized by Ecocivilisation, devoted to initiatives and projects supporting the circular economy development.                                                                                                                                                                                                             
  • For the second time,  Agata Frankiewicz was an expert in the Climate Leadership program, which is a response to the initiative of the United Nations, calling on the private sector to implement sustainable practices in business.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
  • In April, the CEO and founder of Deko Eko took part in the "Round table of circular fashion", organized by Fashion Revolution Poland.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • The same month, Deko Eko participated in the online conference "Business Enrichment", organized by the Open Eyes Economy movement.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
  • Agata Frankiewicz was one of the mentors of the Startupbootcamp Sustainability Amsterdam acceleration program, addressed to startups working to fulfill the UN Sustainable Development Goals.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
  • Circular Week and Mazovia Circular Congress are events promoting the idea of ​​a circular economy, where Deko Eko has been present for years. This time, as part of the Circular Week, we organized meetings, both online and stationary, the topics of which were, among others green-tech solutions, but also issues such as a circular office or waste as a raw material of the future.        
  • In November, Agata Frankiewicz inaugurated the Global Entrepreneurship Week in Malopolska, and during the Young Business Meeting was talking about challenges in creating an ecological business and  explained why waste might be the raw material of the future.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
  • In 2021, we joined Circular Economy Club Warsaw - an international non-profit organization associating professionals and organizations operating in the field of circular economy.


Plans for 2022  

One of our priorities for 2022 will be the development of scalable projects, conducted in cooperation with large retail chains in Poland and other markets where the Dekoeko.com platform is present. We plan to systematically increase the portfolio of products introduced to these chains using for their production waste materials, such as plastic, foil or textiles.
We are also planning further expansion in Germany and Austria, gaining new clients from that market. An important task will also be to refine and implement a new strategy for the upcycling marketplace online, as well as expanding our consulting competences in close-loop projects for our clients.

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