Auckland Council celebrates Will&Able partnership
Auckland Council recently celebrated its ongoing partnership with Papatoetoe-based charity and social enterprise Will&Able with an event at Auckland House. Will&Able, which provides cleaning products for Auckland Council’s offices, kitchens and cafeterias, is a charity dedicated to employing people with disabilities, who struggle to find permanent, fully paid employment elsewhere. Auckland Mayor Phil Goff […]
Auckland Council recently celebrated its ongoing partnership with Papatoetoe-based charity and social enterprise Will&Able with an event at Auckland House.
Will&Able, which provides cleaning products for Auckland Council’s offices, kitchens and cafeterias, is a charity dedicated to employing people with disabilities, who struggle to find permanent, fully paid employment elsewhere.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says the partnership will provide employment and livelihoods to people who might otherwise be excluded from the labour market. “Auckland Council’s support for Will&Able is part of our broader social procurement programme, which enables us to support wider social, economic, cultural, and environmental outcomes that go beyond the immediate purchase of goods and services, to generate positive outcomes and improve quality of life for our communities,” he says.
Sustainability is a key driver of the business, providing Kiwis with a range of eco-friendly cleaning products in bottles made from 100 percent recycled milk bottles which can be returned to 70 Aon Insurance branch locations nationwide.
Empty bottles are sent to a network of disability organisations around the country to be washed, then returned to Will&Able to be re-filled. This closed loop recycling model is unique in New Zealand, and Burston says they are currently in talks to bring several more partners on board.
Woolworths and Foodstuffs supermarkets already stock Will&Able products, and a raft of other major corporates have joined the growing list of companies purchasing for social good.
Economic researchers BERL has estimated social enterprises contribute up to $1.8 billion in GDP annually, plus several billion dollars more in social and environmental value.
Setting an example
“The decision by Auckland Council and the council-controlled organisations to purchase from us represents the single largest commitment yet made by any local or central government agency in New Zealand,” says Will&Able GM Craig Burston.
Auckland Council is also contributing empty milk bottles directly to Will&Able for recycling, with special recycling bins in Auckland House and a plan to roll out the bins in other council facilities over the coming months.
The social enterprise has been supplying cleaning products to Auckland Council, Auckland Transport and Auckland Unlimited over the last 12 months, and prides itself on driving a completely circular economy with its products.
“More than 28,000 online customers and many more corporates are already using our products, but local and government agencies have been slower to get behind the movement to buy from social enterprises like Will&Able,” explains Burston.
He is hopeful the leadership shown by Auckland Council might prompt other councils and central government departments to support fast-growing and innovative social enterprises like Will&Able.
“It feels good to do business with an organisation that’s doing really meaningful mahi and creating positive social and environmental outcomes,” says Jazz Singh, GM for Procurement at Auckland Council.
“We want to show other businesses this is how you can do sustainable procurement – creating jobs for people with disabilities, diverting recycled waste from being sent overseas, carbon reduction from a very local circular economy and the reduced environmental impact of using sustainable products – the list goes on. For us it’s no longer just about price, it’s also about social return,” he adds.
The purchase of products by council organisations will result in more jobs being created as Will&Able strives to employ 100 plus people nationally over the next three years, creating jobs paying minimum wage to those who might otherwise have been unemployed and dependent on benefits.