Sustainable Surplus Exchange (SSE) harvests usable “retired” business assets from companies and redistributes them in support of the community, especially schools and nonprofits. SSE founder Sue Prelozni was determined to reduce waste of viable goods unnecessarily sent to landfills, and at the same time, benefit all regional community groups with business-donated surplus.
In the current economy of reduced funding for academia, thinning donations to charitable organizations and growing low-income community needs on the one side, and the growing social responsibility of a green-minded business community on the other, Sustainable Surplus Exchange was envisioned as a timely intermediary to match ongoing needs for basic supplies with surplus goods.
Ms. Prelozni researched the viability and sustainability of this Exchange. Support from industry was overwhelmingly positive. She engaged a Steering Community of diverse and knowledgeable people who gave input from the perspectives of waste management, business facilities/operations, procurement, recycling and environmental health. The Exchange soon caught the attention of the SEEDs Alliance – a nonprofit group created to promote sustainability best practices in the life sciences arena – and several Alliance members joined the SSE Steering Committee.
The vision became the genesis of Sustainable Surplus Exchange and we launched in the Spring of 2011.
Hundreds of nonprofit organizations, schools, charter schools, and college science departments, voiced their needs for supplies, office equipment, as well as equipment to teach science. Support of both industry and community collaborators enabled the Exchange to prepare for our test launch in February 2011.
The SSE Board of Directors leveraged its connections with the commercial sector for donations of surplus assets. Every company we approached embraced our mission, and if feasible, donated items to SSE at once. Awareness of the Exchange as a well-organized system of facilitating and delivering business resources has grown organically via word-of-mouth and community outreach. Over 130 people from educational and charitable organizations signed up in the first three months. Today, SSE has new member sign-ups almost daily.
We solidified the support of collaborators in the recycling arena. Any items that cannot be repurposed are handled by our recycling partners with a portion of those proceeds feeding back into the Exchange to support our operations.
The goal of the Exchange was, and continues to be, to operate within close parameters of sustainability. Our expenses are controlled and we leverage relationships for warehouse space, moving/transportation and IT/software support. While we are strongly supported with volunteers, as we continue our strong growth, SSE will be a consistent source of job creation in each community it serves.