A future for a former mine: Waltrop location combines the traditional and the modern

Analogue start, digital growth: for 30 years, retailer Manufactum has been selling sustainable products for daily use

The last coal mine in the Ruhr region will close at the end of 2018. And the Waltrop business park is making impressive moves to show that the large, often centrally located land has a future despite this closure. Manufactum has its headquarters at the site of the former mine in an Art Nouveau building. The consigner started in 1987 with just three employees – now the successful enterprise employs 550 people across Germany. It sells premium products manufactured in a responsible, environmentally friendly and socially sustainable way. Its product range includes kitchen appliances and cosmetics, biodegradable clothing, and many more items which are sold in nine department stores in Germany and naturally online as well to consumers all over the globe. In a very modern office building with old-school industrial charm, we meet 31-year-old Lea Böttger, who works in Manufactum’s Marketing department. Her personal conviction that responsible business is extremely important makes her a committed Manufactum employee. Alongside her work with Manufactum she is currently completing a Master's degree in Business Administration with a focus on sustainable business.

Waltrop business park: 40 new businesses on the former mining site

In addition to Manufactum, other companies have also chosen to set up shop on the former mining site, including small to medium-sized skilled workshops and service companies, engineering firms and even a gallery. The site of the former mine has since provided around 350 jobs thanks to the approx. 40 new businesses which have moved there. It is a well visited site, where many go to walk their dogs or stay for a while in the café there. The site often features in wedding photographs juxtaposing bridal couples in their finery against the industrial backdrop. Lea Böttger is happy working in Waltrop and often thinks of the miners who once toiled here, like her great-grandfather who was also a miner. In a certain way, she too is continuing the tradition of working at the mine. But now instead of extracting coal from the earth, she works to raise awareness of sustainability, even in the business world. She sees the story behind the products, the people manufacturing them and the appreciation they deserve. This combination of the traditional and the modern is also reflected in the restored and protected mine buildings, which have now been given new life.