Carton Plein : the reemployment association!

Employ people living on the streets or in social exclusion to collect used cardboard boxes by bike in order to recycle them.
September 22, 2023 by

Born out of a desire to combine social exclusion and ecological transition, Carton Plein

When it was founded 11 years ago, the association developed an economy around cardboard in order to create a simple, practical, useful and accessible trade for everyone, no matter their qualifications. Initially targeting people living on the streets, the association is now creating a sustainable economic activity thanks to mixed financing. 

The association's business model

As a player in sustainable logistics and the circular economy, Carton Plein collects and, above all, contributes to the recycling of cardboard and all other forms of waste. Carton Plein and its 33 cyclo-logisticians on integration programs collect biowaste, cigarette butts and wilted flowers. 

In line with Carton Plein's values of sustainability and solidarity, bikes have become an accessible, effective and inclusive means of integration. No license is required to ride them, and gas and parking are no longer an issue. 

In addition to collection, Carton Plein is developing its integration support options by expanding its cyclologistics : parcel deliveries to individuals and businesses in 2014. In 2022, the association also carried out 108 removals in Paris by bike. 

At Carton Plein, a central place is given to "social ties, meeting and sharing". 

Financed 50% by public funds, 20% by private sponsorship and 30% by the turnover generated by its cyclologistics and second-hand cardboard sales activities, the association never loses sight of its values and initial social mission. 

Rapports de 10 ans de lutte grâce à la collecte de cartons à vélo pour l'association

Diversifying its activities

In cyclologistics, when we talk about a profitable model, the mutualization of flows is often mentioned. This mutualization implies a diversification of customers and therefore of sources of business. 

At Carton Plein, the diversification of its activities enables it to ensure a stable and sustainable business model, guaranteeing the continuity of its social role. By multiplying its uses, it opens up different avenues of integration for the beneficiaries of its program. 

With 3 complementary programs, each of its activities has its own relevance. 

  1. The "premières heures" program is designed for people living on the streets, who need support to help them return to work gradually. By working a few hours a week, they benefit from comprehensive support (health, housing, administration, language, etc.) over and above their cardboard collection and sorting activities.
  2. The integration company programm employs people on integration schemes and covers all cyclologistics activities: waste collection (57%), delivery (20%), bicycle removals (9%). 
  3. The remobilizing workcamp supports people leaving the "premières heures" program, helping them to become independent and find lasting employment. 

All these activities require space. The question of real estate is often raised in last-mile logistics. To carry out its activities and receive its beneficiaries, the association has 3 workshops (2 in Paris and 1 in Nanterre).

In order to operate efficiently, Carton Plein is equipped with 19 VAEs and 7 two-wheelers combined with FlexiModal trailers: 9 BicyLift 6 Runner are used on a daily basis. 

Runners are used to deliver parcels as well as meals to social hotels and restaurants from a central kitchen that prepares hot and cold dishes. 

An early-morning departure and an organization with two trailers sharing the 6 delivery points over a 1.5-hour tour. Thanks to eutectic plates and isothermal covers, Carton Plein's couriers can fully monitor the cold chain. 

Cardboard collection is handled 100% by BicyLift equipped with Rolls. A simple, effective solution that has proved its worth, and whose use has tripled within the association (3 BicyLift in 2021 versus 9 in 2023). 

Roll BicyLift chargé de cartons

Cyclologisticien chargeant la remorque Runner de cartons

Pierre, coordinator of the cyclelogistics division at Carton Plein, said that the sturdiness, maneuverability and low-maintenance of FlexiModal solutions reinforce their choice of equipment. Working with braked trailers is a must to ensure the safety of both the rider and the load, as is the fact that the weight limit is set at 200kg is reassuring for day-to-day users.. 

“Our fleet is FlexiModal and it is very practical” 

The future of the association 

Recycling waste by bicycle is a model that is destined to grow. With committed players such as Carton Plein in Paris and Synchronicity in Marseille, the model has proven its effectiveness and profitability. 

The obligation for private individuals to sort green waste from 12/31/2023 will increase the demand for collection by private individuals and co-ownerships.. 

Crédits photos : Marilou Mauricio, Fondation Caritas et Carton Plein


The unique bike trailer with the patented Lift&Go technology

Roll with Fork

Collect cardboard and plastic easily with the Roll on the Fork


The bike trailer meant for congested cities : parcels, movings, etc