The Materials Book

161 Reuse Economy Maarten Gielen Rotor is a cooperative based in Brussels that aims to redesign the material economy of the city. We work toward a condition where repeated reuse of materials and components is the norm. With this in mind, we draft policy proposals and analyses but also conceive and realize interiors and buildings. In 2011 we set up Rotor Deconstruction, a contractor specialized in salvaging and reselling building components. Rotor redistributes hundreds of tons of reclaimed materials per year and is considered a pioneer in this field. We work in collaboration with dozens of other companies through a network of salvage operators that we established. Opalis currently regroups around 140 companies, mostly in Belgium, but efforts are underway to extend its reach to include France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, and to increase the number of listed companies to 1,500. The idea is first to document the existing practices in order to form a basis for the further development of trade. Gradually, this platform will serve other purposes; Opalis has been used to share technical specification sheets for widely traded materials such as bricks and cobblestones, which helps inform future policy work. The challenges in the field of architectural salvage are surprisingly simple. While the assumption is often that the bottlenecks to widespread reuse must be of a technical nature, this is not our experience. Technical issues do exist for a number of materials (i.e., how to remove cement mortar from ceramic tiles without breaking them), but public funders and