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  • Giorgos Pismisis

Staramaki: A Greek Social Cooperative Enterprise Producing Natural Wheat Straws

“Staramaki” is an example of the circular economy and sustainability, as well as social innovation and social impact. But what exactly does this Social Cooperative Enterprise (KoinSep) do?

Social innovation – social impact (Photo: Staramaki facebook page)

“Staramaki” is based in Kilkis, a rural region in northern Greece and is a Social Cooperative Enterprise that uses the byproduct of local wheat cultivation to create a viable, eco-friendly alternative to single use plastic straws. In particular it produces value-added products, such as unique drinking straws and stirrers from natural wheat stems. It even produces the carrying cases for the straws from natural reed stems. With this way, it provides benefits for the environment and the local agricultural economy and offers labor opportunities for vulnerable groups of people such as formerly unemployed-Greeks and refugees. “Staramaki” offers solutions for economic growth, local and regional development, and social cohesion. With this way, it demonstrated that there is room for social innovation in Greece and that the circular economy can become a fertile field for such innovative actions. “Staramaki” is based on the “Three Nested Dependencies” as a model for sustainability, i.e. the economy is a subset of the society while the society is the subset of the environment.

But “Staramaki” does not stop here. In collaboration with InCommOn (a civil non-profit company that promotes sustainable and participatory urban development) created the “project kafsimo”, where they donate the wheat straws to cafeterias and in return collect used coffee grounds (coffee residues) in order to turn them into solid biofuels (bio-pellets).

“Project kafsimo” Bio-pellets from used coffee grounds (coffee residues) (photo: Staramaki facebook page)

Going beyond mere profitability benefits the environment and the local agricultural economy and offers labor inclusion opportunities for vulnerable groups of people.

Staramaki is Born out of Their Love of Nature

In Greece plastic straws are used every year. For that reason, Staramaki creates their products from natural wheat stems, the best alternative to replace single use plastic straws.

Staramaki is Born out of Their Love for the Land

Unemployment in Kilkis reaches 50% while the issue of rural depopulation is serious. Utilizing the by-product of wheat cultivation in various rural regions of Greece contributes to the income of struggling local economies.

Staramaki is Born out of Their Love for People

The percentage of extreme poverty in Greece reaches 15%. Staramaki, produced by a social cooperative enterprise that belongs to all people working for its development strengthens the local community and its economy. It achieves this, by having both people from the local community and refugees as part of their workforce.

Staramaki is Born out of Their Love for Research and Knowledge

Staramaki is fully compatible with the European and National Legislations. (Reg. (EC) No 2023/2006). It also collaborates with various research centers like Centre for Research and Technology Hellas – CERTH and more.

Drinking straws and stirrers from natural wheat stems (photo: Staramaki facebook page)

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