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What are you looking for?

A look behind the scenes at the municipality's 'workshop'

20 February 2024

At Kerketuinenweg and Zilverstraat in The Hague South-West you will find Den Haag Werkt, the work and development company of the municipality. It helps residents with a distance to the labor market find suitable work. With an area of 18,500 m2, 1,600 employees and 11 production halls, it is one of the most industrious places in the city. Here you will find a bookbinding shop, candle-making shop, upholstery shop, wood & metal department, packaging department and much more. And sustainability is key. As little material as possible is thrown away and the building is heated with renewable energy. As a result, Den Haag Werkt contributes to several Sustainable Development Goals such as Goal 10 (reduce inequality), Goal 11 (sustainable cities and communities) and Goal 12 (responsible consumption and production). The SDG team took a look behind the scenes.

A suitable workplace for everyone

"You can't see it very well from the outside but we are actually a big workshop," says Debby, one of the municipal employees who makes sure everything runs smoothly at Den Haag Werkt. This "workshop" offers people who have been out of work for a long time or have a disability the chance to develop. "We do this because everyone deserves a fair chance at work," explains Debby. "When someone comes in, we hold an intake interview to see what someone is good at and what they enjoy doing. Then they can start working with us. In green maintenance in the city,cleaning or in one of our production halls." People are guided on the floor and there is a safe working environment with few stimuli. For example, on our tour of the production halls, it is noticeable that there is no music. Furthermore, there is a lot of attention to personal development. This approach ensures that employees can grow in a field that fits well with their interests and skills. "The best thing is if, after working with us for a while, people can move on to a job in the private sector. But that doesn't work out for everyone," says Debby.

Kaarsenmakerij en boekbinderij

Handmade candles, notebooks, office chairs and shoppers

A tour of Den Haag Werkt's 11 production halls reveals that a lot of sustainable products are being made here. Among other things, you will find a candle workshop where candles are made and dyed by hand. Layer by layer. The candles are delivered to restaurants, cafes and hotels throughout The Hague. Someone recently retired who had been painting candles for 30 years. "It's a fairly repetitive action but it made him happy. It's soothing work," says Debby. The good quality also makes the candles burn extra long. What makes the candle factory extra special is that they don't throw anything away. All leftover candle wax is collected and melted into a new product: outdoor candles. In this way, as little is wasted as possible.

In the book bindery a little further down the road, old books are given a new life. Libraries in The Hague bring their worn books here and the books are re-bound. The covers of very old books are reused and filled with new paper. This creates new notebooks, ready for the market. These notebooks are valued for their uniqueness and durability. "We are always looking for ways to be more sustainable," Debby tells us. For example, Giselle, who works here, designed her own notebook: "I found it unfortunate that sometimes paper is left over that gets cut away during the binding process. Therefore, I designed my own cover and filled the notebook with leftover paper."


In the upholstery shop, office chairs are reupholstered on commission for various companies. The seats of the trams that run in The Hague are also reupholstered at Den Haag Werkt. This makes them like new again. In the hall the employees work very precisely. Fabric is cut to size, sewn and stitched. At one of the tables, Mr. Ajoeb is at work. He turns old event banners into shoppers and pencil cases. With a blowtorch, he removes the sharp edges so everything looks neat. "My favorite item are the pencil cases," he says. Mr. Ajoub proudly shows one off. Each case has a different print and they are sturdy and waterproof. Instead of throwing away old banners, they are being reused. This gives the city's old banners a second life.

Energy efficient

In addition to the social goals Den Haag Werkt contributes to, Den Haag Werkt is also working to making thier buildings more sustainable. For example, 2,400 solar panels have been installed on the roof, partly made by the employees themselves. The buildings also no longer use gas but are heated by geothermal heat. Geothermal heat (or geothermal energy) is sustainable heat that is retrieved from meters deep underground. A major advantage is that hardly any CO2 or particulate matter is released during its generation. In this way, Den Haag Werkt is contributing to the municipality's goal of being natural gas-free by 2030.

Want to know more?

Den Haag Werkt is always looking for new opportunities to make optimal use of their production halls. They are open to cooperation with entrepreneurs who would like to outsource part of their production process to Den Haag Werkt and in doing so do something social and contribute to the city. Would you like to know more about this? Then visit the website Den Haag Werkt - Den Haag.

Foto's: Eric Fecken.