Fab City Challenge: Transform Manufacturing Waste Into Profit


Fab City thinking requires a systematic view across sectors. Elevator Works is always listening for opportunities to direct meaningful efforts that help us move closer to Oakland 2054, and promote this coordinated approach.

We have been approached by several small local manufacturers who are generating consistent and clean waste products. These are generally items that are destined for a landfill, and which the producer must pay to dispose of. These firms have offered to sort these potentially valuable items and make them available for re-use.

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The first and most basic idea for redeploying this waste was to donate it to educational makerspaces in the Fab City network. But as we considered this problem through the Fab City lens, we realized we could achieve much more.

We formulated a local challenge which has key interlocking goals:

  • Find market-viable products or services which can use clean manufacturing waste as raw materials inputs

  • Educate a diverse group Oaklanders in basic entrepreneurship and basic business planning skills

  • Create lasting closed-loop systems, in which consumers of diverted material can inform the upstream producer’s design decisions


So, rather than facilitate a limited capacity for re-use (like an Urban Ore or Depot for Creative Re-Use), we are encouraging the most creative and resourceful members of our community to apply low- or zero-cost raw materials to problems they directly experience.

This program is a low-risk pilot, which has the support of local partners including the City of Oakland, Uptima Business Bootcamp, MakerEd, AM Bay Area, local FabLabs and the members of our Fab City Education Workgroup. We are working to fund this innovative effort. Stay tuned for more.