Needy get unsold goods at a low cost

France's L'Agence du Don en Nature (ADN) has made its mark as a force for social innovation.

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The agency goes to firms and collects unsold products scheduled for destruction for all sorts of reasons - discontinued lines and damaged packaging, for example - and sells them at a fraction of the cost to needy people.

"Every year," reports France's Agency for the Environment and Energy Management, "manufacturers and retailers destroy €600 million (S$980 million) worth of new non-food products."

Donating companies range from big firms like Procter & Gamble and L'Oreal to smaller concerns like household appliance maker Seb.

ADN now has around 100 different partner businesses.

Every year, it makes sure that home maintenance, hygiene and wellness products, school items, handyman equipment and clothing go out to 600,000 people, with the annual market value of the gifts collected at €18 million.

"In France we have 8.7 million people living below the poverty line," stresses ADN executive director Stephanie Goujon.

ANNE RODIER/LE MONDE (FRANCE)

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