When the new management took over in 2021, sustainability, digitalization and innovation were established as fixed components of Volkshilfe Oberösterreich’s corporate strategy for the future. A dedicated staff unit for sustainability and innovation will expand additional expertise in the area of sustainability. On the one hand, we want to stick to the tried and tested and expand our impact in the circular economy, and on the other hand, we want to lay the foundations for a sustainable future in the social sector.

Stilistisches Bild einer grünen Glühbirne

In the spirit of the circular economy

As Volkshilfe, we have been directly involved with people for 75 years and recognised the need for a re-use business in the sense of a circular economy for people and the environment 30 years ago and put it into practice. Today, we are the second largest collector and seller of used textiles and goods in Upper Austria after the Landesabfallwirtschaftsverband.

In the re-use sector, Volkshilfe OÖ and Volkshilfe Arbeitswelt GmbH are succeeding with innovative measures such as the Vintage Generations Cafés Kreisler*inmonthly Repair and sewing cafésnew store and assortment concepts and the Online store WIDADO to attract more young consumers for second-hand goods and thus bring additional goods back into circulation.

We collect a total of 2600 tons of used textiles, making us the second largest textile collector in Upper Austria after the municipal collection service. 81 percent (2100 tons) of the used textiles collected can be recycled by Volkshilfe and thus reused. As the largest partner in the ReVital network, a collaboration between the Upper Austrian Waste Management, the environmental department of the Province of Upper Austria and the social economy, Volkshilfe collects 1150 tons of household goods, furniture, electrical appliances as well as leisure and sports equipment every year. More than 75 percent (865 tons) of these goods are sold at low prices via the nationwide Volkshilfe ReVital stores and put back into circulation.


Civil society is also involved via pupils. In 2021, four high school graduates from HLW Steyr created a second-hand pop-up store “House of Vintage” in Steyr. In cooperation with Volkshilfe Arbeitswelt GmbH, the high school graduates were able to sort the goods themselves, which they then sold in the pop-up store.

The nationwide range of Volkshilfe stores was also the reason why we as Volkshilfe were commissioned by the province of Upper Austria at the beginning of the war in Ukraine at the end of February 2022 with the logistics of collecting and shipping donations in kind for the Ukrainians who had fled. Since then, we have carried out an important humanitarian mission by collecting around 500 tons of donations in kind and transporting them to various refugee camps.

Volkshilfe goes green

Volkshilfe Oberösterreich has already carried out a life cycle assessment in 2021 and thus determined the CO2 emissions of the regional head office and its four subsidiaries. The main sources of emissions have been identified and are being strategically reduced through awareness-raising measures and the gradual switch to renewable energy sources and refurbishment measures.

VH’s internal life cycle assessment serves as the basis for future measures. A strategic controlling system for measuring key figures is currently being developed in order to better derive measures and measure their impact.

Cooperation with

With our #UpdateSocial project, we are helping to preserve our living space and shape a fair and inclusive society. Great projects were created and awarded prizes as part of a 48-hour ideas workshop on social innovations. The subsequent implementation program has even led to the founding of one or two start-ups

More about UpdateSocial
Gruppenfoto des Teams hinter dem Projekt UpdateSocial

This project is a social innovation process launched jointly with the Linz Institute of Technology at the JKU, involving civil society, various sectors, science and politics, which has never been seen on this scale in Austria before and which is based on flagship examples from Standford and Leuphana.

Civil society was called upon to work on cross-sectoral solutions for an ecologically and socially sustainable future as part of a 48-hour ideas workshop at the JKU. From April 21 to 23, 2023, the 48-hour innovation workshop took place, in which the entire civil society was invited to develop proposals for solutions to predefined climate-social challenges or their own challenges. The best solutions were honored with a prize. Each of the teams was then able to register for an implementation program in order to provide all teams with long-term support in implementing their idea.

The province of Upper Austria took over the patronage of the innovation process. The course of the ideas competition was based on a hackathon in Germany, which was successfully held by the then German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2021 and was already co-organized by Prof. Dr. Thomas Gegenhuber (JKU).

Further cooperation with the scientific community relates to projects in the field of eco-social research with the Energy Institute of the JKU and the preparation of guidelines for EU taxonomy with the Technology Institute Austria.

Furthermore, an application for funding from the City of Linz’s climate fund called “Klimasoziales Linz”, which provides for citizen participation with vulnerable groups on climate-social policy, was approved. This project was initiated by BOKU Vienna in cooperation with the University of Art and Design Linz. Volkshilfe Oberösterreich will be primarily responsible for involving vulnerable groups in order to gain insights into climate-social policy together with citizens.

Eine Wohnung, in der eine Hälfte schön und sonnig aussieht und die andere kalt, dunkel und schimmlig.

Fighting energy poverty

In order to combat energy poverty in Linz, Volkshilfe, in cooperation with Linz AG, submitted one of the first social climate protection projects called “Climate protection against energy poverty”.

Thirty households will be visited and their residents advised on their energy consumption, and old inefficient appliances will also be replaced. Similar projects show that this has reduced energy costs in energy-poor households by 26 to 50 percent, thereby relieving the burden on people and the environment.

We are a member of the Climate Council

Our projects listed on this page have led to us becoming a member of the City of Linz’s Climate Advisory Board and enabling us to contribute our social perspective to funding applications submitted. We have been represented at the Climate Action Days since 2022 and in the same year, our vintage and generational café “Kreisler*in” – located in the Tabakfabrik – was named Linz Company of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce in the category of ecological commitment and climate protection. We are also becoming increasingly visible for climate-social research projects, which we are happy to support in gaining knowledge for social climate protection.

And last but not least, Volkshilfe Arbeitswelt GmbH was awarded the environmental seal for its activities and Flüchtlings- und MigratInnenbetreuung GmbH became a Climate Alliance company.

Linz Climate Action Days 2022

With a pop-up Repair Café, we were part of the Climate Action Days in 2022 and showed how easily broken items can be repaired.

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