More social economy than solidarity economy

By Christian BlockLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

Companies that want to make the world a better place: With the SIS law passed in 2016, Luxembourg has opted for a social economy model that operates on the basis of trading companies. It is met with approval, but also with criticism.

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When Julia Gregor describes on.perfect as a "mini-shop", she is not exaggerating. From the car park, located next to a petrol station and partly hidden by a shopping trolley box, you could easily miss the corner shop. Inside, customers find a modern, tidy little shop. On this cold April day, just before the high season, you quickly get an overview of the assortment. There are dairy products in a fridge, tea, eggs, spices, carrots, potatoes and other fruits and vegetables on the shelves.

The special thing about it is that it is anything but an ordinary grocery shop; rather, the cooperative behind it turns this principle around. "Our goods are generally imperfect, " Julia Gregor explains. The vegetables are mainly discarded or surplus goods from organic farmers in Luxembourg: misshapen carrots, thick potatoes or eggs that are too small.

Making a contribution against food waste is the starting point of on.perfekt. At the beginning of 2020, the team – all women – discusses the topic. They learn, for example, that according to the environmental organisation WWF, at least one third of all food produced ends up in the bin , and it is estimated that half of this happens before fruit, vegetables and other primary products even leave the farm.

At that time, the cooperative was testing its concept in small steps. It started with occasional stalls at family festivals or similar events and a monthly pop-up market in a store in Hosingen. on.perfekt still functioned on the basis of a non-profit association and the customers could pay the price that the goods offered were worth to them, with the aim of triggering a reflection on the value and price of food. Then the idea of a shop became concrete. This was made possible by a crowdfunding campaign last year, in which more than 660 people supported the team's goals of fighting food waste and promoting local producers at the same time with more than 100,000 euros. A considerable sum, which indicates the broad support of the initiative. The cooperative's ten-member board of directors is backed by more than 200 members.

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